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Pure

Pure

One of the images I like to use with the men I work with is an illustration about a sponge soaked in water.

If I were to go to a store, find the kitchen aisle, and buy a pack of sponges, I could take them home to use as I see fit. If I opened the packaging, took out one sponge and if my kitchen sink was clean I could fill it up with water, take the sponge which had never been used, ball it up in my hand, plunge it in the water, let it go and it would soak up clean water. If I then retrieved another sponge from the packaging, took it outside, found a mud puddle, balled up the sponge in my hand, plunged it in the murky water, let it go, it would soak up dirty water. The sponge isn’t the difference, it’s the water.

It’s similar to our lives. We are mostly products of where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. If our intentions are good and our hearts are pure most likely we will produce good results and our minds and spirits will be at peace. If, however, our hearts and intentions are selfish we will have no peace and wreak havoc on the lives of others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Redeemed

Redeemed

This morning my scripture readings included the 43 chapter of Isaiah. I had heard a selection of this chapter earlier this week at my dad’s memorial service. He mentioned these verses many times and one of his favorite words in this passage was the word; “Redeemed.”

To redeem means to; “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something), to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.”

My dad wasn’t a perfect man. He had his habits, hurts, and hangups as we all do. Sunday afternoon, as my mother and I traveled back to her house after meeting the pastoral team who would do his service, I mentioned to my mom that for days all we heard was the good stuff about dad. She responded; “People think he’s a saint!” We both laughed and talked about the myriad of frustrating things dad did that aggravated us so much and the things we did that triggered him.

“The beginning of love is to let the one we love be perfectly themselves,
not twist them to fit our own image.
Otherwise,
we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
#ThomasMerton

Remembering someone after they’ve passed is to try to hold the whole of them together in our hearts and minds. The good and not so good. The positive and the negative. The stuff we loved and the things which drove us crazy.

Loving each other isn’t about forcing someone to change to meet our expectations or being blind to their faults. It is allowing a fusion of imperfect souls to connect in a deeper way where; “love covers a multitude of sins,” a mountain of aggravation, a collection of experiences that allows each one to maintain their unique identity but also redeems both the loved and the lover and together they are better and greater because of it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Searching

Searching

This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf.  It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.

It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Still

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Still

I am sitting at the foot of the hospital bed of my friend who’s been suffering for the last several weeks. The room is quiet except for the loud hum of a pump which is pulling toxins from his body and the oxygen machine, both attached to him. He’s still, trying to find the sleep which eluded him last night. He received a pain shot from a nurse a few moments ago and hopefully, this affords him a quiet mind and a less painful body for a while.

He looks weak, not at all the man I’ve known for most of my life. I know him and if he could leave this place he would in a moment, hospital gown and all. In fact last night someone asked him if they could do anything for him and he quipped; “Trade places with me.” I smiled and thought; “Be careful what you ask for…” It’s these little jokes he still manages that show me he’s still fighting, still holding on, still not ready to take his final steps into eternity.

His legs twitch while he tries to nap. I wonder if they are the result of a dream? Perhaps a time when we were hiking on the Appalachian trail or playing T-Ball, maybe it was working on a construction project at his home. I hope it’s good dreams and brings him happiness, even in sleep.

Still. Still hanging on. Still suffering. Still funny. Still hoping. Still trusting the path to what’s next is not too difficult.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

Laughter

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Laughter

Late last night a friend of my wife and me texted concerning a “rat” that was in her kitchen! I called her and asked if it was dead, moving and how big? She confessed it wasn’t a rat but a mouse and it was moving quicker than she or it would be a dead rodent! I inquired if she had traps or poison and learned all she possessed was a broom. “What are you going to do with a broom?” I asked bemusedly.  “I don’t know. Maybe I can kill it.” I began to laugh at the thought of my friend chasing down a small, fast, furry, creature and then she began to laugh as well. I informed her that the chances were slim she would rid herself of the mouse with a broom and she could either go get traps and poison now or tomorrow. She was already dressed for bed so she decided to wait until today.

My friend’s had a rough go of it the past several months and a mouse was one more problem she didn’t need. I understood but I also told her at least it was a distraction for a couple of moments and we did have a good laugh at the thought of her playing hockey with a broom and the rodent.

Laughter, funny moments and experiences, can be a blessing. Even in a time of turmoil and terror, a good laugh can chase the fear and uncertainty away for a little while. I hope my friend finds more moments of light-heartedness as she walks a trail that no one desires.

Treasure laughter. A good medicine. A great reminder that even in the darkest of times we can find humor, hope, and the strength to go on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Messy Good

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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

I Love Her

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I Love Her

Earlier this week at one of my incarcerated father’s classes one I was listening to resident tell another about a woman who works with the residents at the jail. He said; “I love her!” A few minutes later he was talking about corrections officer and repeated; “I love her!” I couldn’t help myself as I asked him; “You love her?” “Yep,’ he shot right back. ‘Women, all of them. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones and fat ones. I love ’em all. Except for the ones without teeth. They need to have all their teeth. That’s a real turn-off.” “It’s good to have standards.” I quipped. “Do you think perhaps your lack of judgment when it comes to women is part of the reason you’re in jail?” He thought for a moment and replied; “Yes.

There is a difference between love and lust, want and need. Those who follow their passions only end up making choices that negatively impact their lives. Those who know they shouldn’t have everything they want, their every heart’s desire, satisfaction to every immediate impulse, make better decisions that positively affect their present and future.

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

The Heart’s Way

The Heart’s Way

The sky has been cloudy today. It has been mostly dreary and cool. It’s one of those days you stay inside and try to keep warm. This weekend has felt like fall. Not the fall with the beautiful leaves, cool nights and warmer days but the type of fall days which tell you winter won’t be long coming.

I’ve been tired today. It’s been a long 10 days and its caught up with me. I don’t mind “lazy” days. They are good for the mind, body, and spirit. However, there are things which need to get done that didn’t. I know there will still be enough sunny warmer days to finish winterizing the house and yard but letting go of “wasted” day thoughts is still tough.

Looking inside, into my soul, where the stillness exists I am reminded that there must be days we rest. I am thankful for the wisdom teachings of the importance of the mind but even more so the lessons of the heart. Going deep, when the surface is confused or condemning, helps me discover the path is not forged by a quickened pace but by a contented heart.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

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Free Zone

Today, on my way to an Incarcerated Father’s class, I was passed by a truck with one of those “How’s My Driving? Call 1-800——–” sticker. There was a number identifying the truck and another sticker I hadn’t seen before which declared the truck a Cellphone Free Zone. Of course, what was the driver doing? Talking on his cellphone. I found it humorous and was tempted to honk my horn and point to his sign but resisted the urge.

I didn’t call the “How’s My Driving?” number either but I did reflect on the thought; what if we had stickers or buttons, shirts or pants, that asked; “How’s my living?” “How am I acting?” “Hate Free Zone” “Racist Free Zone” “Anger Free Zone” even the dreaded; “How’s my driving?” What would people say about us when they called the number? Good, positive reports or not so good, mostly negative?

The truth is we are being watched, all the time, everywhere. Reporting numbers or not, the world needs to see more kindness, grace, and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Adjusting

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Adjusting –

Beth and I just finished moving furniture around in the living room. Couches, bookshelves, chairs, stools, everything. The reason we did this is that the bookshelves were given to us last week and the way we currently had our living room arranged wouldn’t work with them added. So, we moved and looked, moved and pondered, moved and finally have the room the way we think looks nice and is functional.

The last couple of hours have been a good reminder that anytime we add things to our lives, positive or negative, there is adjusting required. Each of us has a finite amount of time, energy and passion. The more stuff we have in our lives the less we have of the three. This is why mindfulness is so important. We must make sure what we add is worth the readjusting and investing of time, energy and passion.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

One Thought

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One Thought

Yesterday, a friend wrote on her Facebook page, to make sure you spell check political posts before putting them out there for the world to see. I commented snarkily; “How about not posting them at all?” To be honest, I grow tired of the division the current administration and media seems to thrive on and more tired of friends and family, people I love, choosing sides against one another.

Social media can be a great way to keep in contact with folks down the block and across the nation and world. It can be immensely helpful by giving people an opportunity to supply aid when natural disasters strike and notifying users around the world of prayer needs. I use social media for all of these things plus writing my blog. However, over the last year, there has been a noticeable trend towards nasty, mean and downright hateful posts and replies.

When I counsel men and couples on getting along with each other one of the disciplines I teach is the; “The Space in Between.” It is the understanding that between the action and reaction is a space. In this space, we decide how we are going to react and which consequences will come as a result. “The greater the space in between the better the chance of a good decision with positive outcomes. The shorter the space in between the better chance of making a bad decision with negative outcomes.

When it comes to social media I wonder if we shouldn’t reflect on the question; “Will this help? Build up? Bring people closer?

“No one regrets a harsh word unspoken.” -#Wisdom #Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ripples

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Ripples

Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.

Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.

 blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

I was listening to a webinar this morning which told the story of a mediator in Gaza (a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border).

It was a story of how a boy who was abused had learned to read the moods of those who harmed him. With this gift, he knew when to stay home and when to leave. Finally, he was taken from his childhood home and placed in foster care. He blossomed, did well in school, went to college and became a mediator. He says it is his gift of reading people and their moods which make him a good mediator. “If I hadn’t gone through the difficulties of my childhood, I wouldn’t be a mediator today. It was the bad which I used for good.”

Such a great lesson to learn and know. There are times when “bad” things happen and we wonder; “why us?” Perhaps the challenges of life we encounter, if we allow them, can be used to help others. The good in the world often blossoms from the worst situations and seasons.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

Yesterday afternoon I loaded the pick-up truck with the household garbage we keep in a covered area outside. I placed two bins in the back and another bag shut the tailgate and headed to the Refuse and Recycling Center. When I arrived I hopped out the cab, walked to the back, let the tailgate down and something furry jumped out at me! That’s not what happened but it’s what looked like was happening when the deceased mouse (pictured) plopped down on the tailgate when it lowered. “Whoa!” I screamed, initiating a strange look from another person who was throwing away garbage also.

As I looked closer I saw that it was a dead rat. I emptied the bin and discovered he was trapped by a hole in the bottom of the trashcan. He had wiggled his entire body out with the exception of his hips and hind feet. He died trying to escape the trash he willingly entered into. I used a piece of wood to pry him out of the hole and a thick piece of plastic to grab him and toss him in the dumpster.

As I drove away I thought about the choices each of us makes; good and bad, right and wrong, positive or negative. I tell the men I work with; “The choices you make today determine the man you will be tomorrow.” I also speak with them about how there are some choices which drastically impact them and those they love and care about. “Once you make certain decisions you forfeit the ability to be a good man to those who need you be that the most.”

Each of our actions has consequences. We must be careful not get stuck by the choices we make.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Elude

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Elude

Mowing the grass today I crossed paths with a butterfly which seemed for a moment he would land on the lawn mower and I’d have a riding partner. Alas, at the last moment, he turned and fluttered away.

I like this quote (pictured). It’s a good reminder that happiness too can elude us quickly. There are many things in this world which promise happiness, contentment, satisfaction but few deliver and even fewer last more than a season. What’s interesting is we keep chasing after the new thing which promises us a better, more respected, fulfilled life but like the butterfly, it flutters away.

It isn’t wrong to seek happiness but in our frenetic, ever evolving, never steady world it’s easy to get lost in chasing trinkets and listening to voices on the wind. The more difficult way is to be still and allow happiness to find us. It takes trust and patience but most good things do.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing –

Today was a great day for yard work. Our lawn has feasted on the rain and nutrients it’s received this week and has started to grow wild. It was windy and cool today and so I put on my blue jean overalls and hopped on the lawn mower. I had exactly one tank full of gas and it was enough for me to mow the front and the back.

About a third of the way through with the front yard I ran over some landscaping cloth. It was thick enough to get stuck around the blades of the mower. I stopped under our big Oak tree. I was busy messing with the cloth and when I was able to get all of it removed I was about to get back on my John Deere when I saw a long, thick branch just a few feet from where I was parked. Because I was under the mower near the engine I didn’t hear it crash to the ground but was certainly glad I stopped where I did and not a few feet further.

When I finished mowing I grabbed the weed eater and began working my way around the yard. The wind picked up and a few sprinkles fell and I wondered if I would finish before the rain started. I got through and was headed into the workshop as the rain came.

I had experienced two instances of perfect timing in the short span of an afternoon. Time is an interesting concept to try to wrap our minds around. We wonder why things happen when they do. We complain when we’re victims of bad timing and consider ourselves blessed with privilege and perfect timing when things work out for us.

The truth is we can’t control time and must accept with open hand the good and the bad. It is hard trusting the path of life to take us where we need to go and when we need to get there. Acceptance, grace, and thankfulness should be how we receive all that life brings our way.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Together

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Together

A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.

As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The End

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The End

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

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

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

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

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

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Flies and Sweet Tea

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Flies and Sweet Tea

On Friday, midway through raking and mowing the front lawn, I stopped and went inside, fixed myself a ham sandwich, a large cup with a lid, of iced tea, and went outside to have lunch on the porch. After finishing the sandwich I still had some tea and let it sit while wrapping up the chores for the day. Heading back inside I grabbed the cup of tea, took a big swig of drink satisfied with the accomplishments of the day.

Inside I took a shower, went back into the kitchen and refilled my cup with ice and more tea. For the next hour or so drank, worked on my blog and other things waiting for Beth to come home from work. When she arrived we discussed what to have for dinner, decided on something easy and fast, cooked it and was ready to eat. Before heading into the living room with my dinner plate I took the lid off of my cup of tea to add some ice and that’s when I saw it! A fly had somehow gotten into it, I assume by crawling through the straw when I had left it on the porch. From then until I spied it I had been drinking while the fly, and all that came with it was drowning. At least I didn’t swallow it!

I showed it to Beth and she was grossed out. I thought it was funny. We both thought I should get a new cup. I’ve thought about that insect several times over the last few days. What’s interesting is I didn’t know the fly was in there and so it didn’t bother me having a drinking buddy. However, when I finally did see it, something needed to be done.

Wisdom teaches us that we are learning, absorbing like a sponge, whatever we come in contact with, surround ourselves with every moment of each day. I often tell my clients; “WHAT you do, think, choose today is WHO you’ll be tomorrow.” Self-awareness comes when we are humble enough to take the lid off of our closed lives and look inside. What we find there will be good and not so good. True self-awareness is doing what we do well and improving upon what we could do better.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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