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Help

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Help

It happened several weeks ago but has happened before many times and chances are will happen again. A stranger, someone we don’t know and not sure we want to, approaches us and asks us for assistance. This last time it was at a gas station when a long, matted hair, holes in his shirt and pants man, with a gas can in his hand asked me to buy him some gas. I always feel vulnerable and suspicious when anything similar to this happens and try to take a look around without being obvious. I was almost finished filling my tank and told him to set his canister down and proceeded to give him enough to almost fill it. When I finished he said; “Thank you,” took the container and went back to where he and another person were sitting. I opened the front door, sat in the driver’s seat and told the story to Beth who had watched from inside our car.

It’s been a rule of mine for as long as I can remember to not ask or demand from someone what they will do with money, gas or whatever when I give it to them. I understand some people take advantage of others and use people’s generosity for nefarious purposes. I know others need genuine help. I also believe in serving angels unaware and there’s no doubt I can’t tell the difference between the three. When I give it is a letting go of the abundance I sometimes have and allow others to use it as they deem necessary.

Assisting another in need is often vague. However, giving to another isn’t about how they use the gift but having a heart that’s willing to help.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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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

Heart Space

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Heart Space

This morning at worship service with my mom I bumped into an old friend and asked him how things were going. His birthday was a few weeks ago and he said that he was going to celebrate with a trip but had encountered some heart problems and wasn’t able to go.

I’ve reflected on the short conversation several times today. It is Advent season. A time of joy and celebration but our hearts are heavy with the passing of my dad. As we sat in church this morning, visited a home improvement store (which my dad loved to do), did some work around the house our hearts just haven’t been in it.

We know this is the path we must travel and one day much of the pain will dissipate but right now, this evening, it is not the time. Our broken hearts still ache and space which my dad filled is empty. There is no template for mourning, no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. We take it one day at a time, one moment, one tear and laugh as the memories, experiences, and love flood us and fill us.

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

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

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

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

Love Lost

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Love Lost

This afternoon I sat in a classroom at the local county jail waiting for the men in my class to arrive. At jails and prisons, they’re never on your timetable, you are on theirs. Just outside my class is a phone the residents use to contact “those on the outside” be it family, friends, or others. A man was using his phone time and talking loud enough I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation. He was begging his mom to make contact with the mother of his child and find out if she would bring their daughter to visit him. Apparently, it’s been a while and he wanted desperately to see her, talk with her, be a dad to her.

This isn’t an uncommon scenario for those who are incarcerated. Their freedoms and controls are stripped away. They can no longer go see someone, do something when they desire, but instead must wait and hope that the object of their affection comes to them. I’ve had many dads in my classes who haven’t seen their children since they were incarcerated because the mom refuses to bring them to the jail. There are valid and questionable reasons which inform the mothers’ choice but the father is powerless either way.

Love confined, locked away, kept from its beloved is one of the great tragedies. Love fully blossoms when it embraces, touches, pulls close the one desired. One of the most difficult losses for our incarcerated fathers to accept is the lack of presence in their loved one’s lives. They understand it was their choices which made it so but they also know; “the heart wants what the heart wants.” So, they will keep asking, begging, trying to stay involved in the lives of those whose worlds consist of more than cement walls, metal bars, and constant reminders that love must be stronger than.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Fill My Cup

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Fill My Cup

Sunday morning, heading into the sanctuary for worship, I grabbed a styrofoam cup from the coffee stand and went to a water fountain to fill it up. As I filled it with water, I was also saying; “hello” to a few people and thinking about several other things. After a while, I looked down at the cup and noticed it was only half filled. So, I kept the faucet going, felt the eyes of the person behind me waiting for me to finish, checked again and it was only half filled. I then let go of the lever to the fountain, picked up the styrofoam cup, looked at the bottom and noticed it had a big hole. The water was leaking out almost as fast as it was being put in. I emptied out the bit which was remaining and threw the cup away. I then walked down the hall to where the kitchen was located, the door was open, so I went in and grabbed a plastic cup, made my way back to the water fountain and filled up the cup with ease. I went into the sanctuary, found where my wife was sitting and stood beside her.

As we sang a chorus I wasn’t familiar with I reflected on the oft heard statement; “I hope the singing and the sermon is good this morning! My heart needs to be filled up today. I’m almost empty.” I chuckled as I thought about the first cup with the big hole. It wasn’t the fountain’s fault the cup wasn’t being filled. Maybe, instead of looking to church, concerts, special services, “good ol’ preaching,” or whatever the newest, most popular sermon series happens to be, we should check our heart for holes. This could be why we’re empty every Sunday. Too many times we look outside before inside to see what the problem may be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Lay Me Down to Rest

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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

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Feeling Around

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Feeling Around

Dirty dishes, like dirty clothes, seem to multiply at an impossibly exponential rate in almost every household.

Yesterday afternoon, I washed the dishes which had been piling up and grabbed a small Coca-Cola glass. I pulled it out of the soapy water to see if there were any spots I missed and discovered it had somehow broken while in the sink. I walked over to the trash can and disposed of it but knew I wasn’t finished with the glass.

By the shape of the break, it looked like a large singular piece was somewhere in the water. I couldn’t see so I put my hands in the soapy water and began slowly, methodically, making my way through the water. I knew the feel of spoons, knives, forks, bowls and other glasses that they weren’t what I was searching for but finally discovered the broken piece. I carefully brought it out of the sink and threw it away.

I finished washing the dishes and thought about others and myself when things have somehow become broken. Maybe it’s a broken heart, spirit, emotions, or body and it’s hard to see how things can be put back together. When we have a desire to heal we must not rush but carefully, contemplatively, tenderly, kindly find all the broken pieces and hope they can be put back together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Progression not Perfection

Progression not Perfection

Today in our Incarcerated Father’s class we talked about; “How to be the Perfect Dad.”

I began by drawing a stick figure and asked the men what it needed to be an ideal father. On the face we drew a mouth for praising and giving guidance, ears for listening, eyes for seeing the good in ourselves and our kids, a nose for sniffing out trouble and a big ol’ brain for making good choices which have a long-lasting impact on us and our children’s future. We then went on to hands, feet and lastly I drew a large heart in the middle of the stick figure. “Without a heart which loves, helps, leads and values our children, partners and families, we’ll never be the father we need to be.”

After the exercise, we looked over the list of traits and duties a perfect father has, does and I asked the men a question; “Can anyone be a perfect, ideal dad?” They paused for a moment and said; “No.” “Correct!’ I replied, ‘we seek progression not perfection.”

It’s a good lesson for each of us to learn. We live in a world where celebrities on websites and magazines look amazing, not a blemish to be found. We read articles which extol the feats of men and women and they seem more advanced and evolved than us. We peruse Facebook and other social media sites where friends post photos, quotes, eloquent thoughts and we think to ourselves; “They’ve got it all. I’ll never be a _________ as good as them (fill in the blank).”

We forget so easily that pictures can be photo-shopped, well written pages are heavily edited, most folks only post their best on social media sites and no matter how perfect a person’s life may seem it is anything but…

Too often we have an ideal self and try to live up to it and, of course, we fail and spectacularly! Give yourself a break. Open up your heart and learn to love your frail, faulty, fickled self. Remember; progression not perfection is the way of the sane and contented.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Life and Moving On

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Today I had to make a most difficult decision. It’s been coming for a long while but sometimes its easier to put off uncomfortable choices than to ultimately choose, especially when your decision cannot be undone. Our Golden Retriever, Belle, came into our lives almost 15 years ago. She has been a faithful companion, a good friend and has given us unconditional love in many ways. The last couple of years she’s lost her hearing, vision, her back legs became extremely weak and she’s had trouble standing. These issues along with heart, breathing and other difficult health maladies have greatly diminished her quality of life. The past few weeks she’s taken a major turn for the worse; not being able to stand without assistance, stopped eating and so we made the decision to take her to the vet one last time to be euthanized.

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This morning I took her outside and we walked around the yard. I snapped a few pictures, petted her, talked to her and tried to let her know I’ve appreciated the blessing of her companionship. I helped her into the truck and on the way to the veterinarian continued to tell her how much she’s meant to me and stroked her head. She looked so tired and worn out. Arriving, we slowly walked into the waiting room and a few moments later were put in a room where we said; “Goodbye.”

Life is about transition. Bidding farewell to loved ones, furry and human, is never easy. However, it’s what needed to be done. To hang on any longer would’ve been selfish and cruel. As I sat alone with her in the room gently running my hand across her face one last time, I could hear the receptionist answering phones, folk walking back and forth down the hall. Laughter and life continued on the other side of the door. I got up, left the room and walked outside into the beautiful sunlight.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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