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What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind

YouTube can be infuriating with the number of commercials and advertisements it has between videos. Every now and then though there will be one that gets its hooks into your brain. This song played several times today while I was mowing the grass and when I finished I came in and looked it up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0czMhagZgwY). It’s a simple video of a man going to the beach and jumping off a high cliff into the ocean below. He then crosses it off a list of things he wants to do.

There is a note at the beginning of the song. It’s hard to read but it says:

Dear Friends, My name is Fred Rister. For those who don’t know me, I have had cancer 9 times in 30 years. The one I am fighting this time around will be the last since I know for sure; my days are numbered. I have decided to release a song called, “I Want a Miracle” in which all proceeds will go to the Kidney Cancer Association, with whom my physician, Dr. Escudier, from the Gustave Roussy Institute is affiliated. This project is very important to me because it is a bit of hope for all those fighting cancer. Whether you donate directly or download/stream the song your support is immensely appreciated.
This is: “I Want a Miracle” “Music is therapy” #FredRister

The note made me pause and feel his pain, heartache, kindness and giving spirit. He’s dying of cancer. It is the ninth time he’s faced this dreaded disease in thirty years. He knows his days are numbered and instead of blaming, sulking, being too frightened to do anything he wrote a song to be shared and a hope to be kindled.

In this world where everything seems terrible someone using their last days to touch and help others is a wanted and needed gesture that we all could follow. Whether we know it or not our days are limited. What we do with every moment can have an impact on those who follow. Our lives should be spent making each moment count instead of counting down our moments until the end.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

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In Memory of

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In Memory of

This is a strange holiday for me. It’s not strange in the sense that I don’t understand it or think it necessary but strange because I did not serve in the armed services nor lost a loved one while in military service. I don’t know what it’s like to charge up a hill with my unit, share foxholes with people who I depend on for my life, find the courage to carry out orders that put my life and others in danger and know not everyone is coming back from the mission. I don’t know what it is to get a knock on my door, a phone call, by servicemen or women to inform me a loved is not returning home. I can’t imagine the pain, heartache, loss, or pride that comes with Memorial Day.

I once served on a staff with a war veteran and we liked to talk politics, history, and war. He had seen action in the military while I sat in the safety of a university classroom. We’d have conversations about the justifications of war. I’d voice my opinion that Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be pacifists, opposed to all violence and then he’d tell me when and why I was wrong. I didn’t agree with everything he said about the military, nation-building, and protection but I was also humbled and silent as he spoke. I understood that he had served, put his life on the line for us to disagree and still be friends, still call ourselves by the same name; Americans.

“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
#AbrahamLincoln #GettysburgAdress

Blessings & Thank you,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surfing or Drowning

Surfing or Drowning

I just finished reading an article from seven years ago today about a father and son who were killed by a drunk driver. The mom shared it on social media and the heartache is still present and the wound raw. I can’t imagine the pain. I knew the father a little. He was in our church’s youth group. He was a few years older than me but always seemed cool. He was an athlete. He ran, biked, swam, and surfed. The morning dad and son were killed they were training for a triathlon. The father was named after his father and the son carried on the tradition. He was the III.

How do you have hope in the midst of such loss? How do you not drown in sorrow? How do you not get lost in such darkness? I don’t think there’s an easy answer. Quips and quotes don’t begin to address the brokenness and reveal our lack of intimacy with death. We do everything we can to avoid it. Most of us try to prolong our lives by any means necessary. When death finally does come we are quick to make the arrangements, organize a memorial or funeral service and push past it as fast as possible. But even then, death finds a way to corner us, trap us, confront us. After the hustle and bustle of meals, flowers, sympathy cards, and services we find ourselves alone when death, misery, mourning, comes calling.

Experts tell us that when we are caught in a riptide to not fight the current or it will surely drown its victim. Let it grab you and then slowly, moving parallel to the shore, slip from its grip. I think this is how we deal with the loss of those we love. There’s no escaping and fighting and refusing to acknowledge its power end in certain defeat. To allow it take hold, scare us, shake our faith, sweep our “normal” life away, but not giving up is the key. Slowly our strength returns, we regain our bearings, we slip from its grip, rise above the waters and live.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Old News

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Old News

The last couple of weeks of February have been a rough time for me the last several years. There are painful, heart hurting memories which seem to resurface and dealing with these challenging emotions is difficult.

Today I cleaned up our yard after a round of storms and rain this last week. I threw them on a burn pile and set it afire. I also had some old fence pieces and newspapers to burn. The newspapers are from my wife. She is doing her best to understand and begin to use extreme couponing in an effort to save money. I made sure to take old piles of newspaper and watched as the flames began consuming them. I tried reading some of the headlines and articles before the fire reached them and then they were gone.

As the fire leaped into the air I thought about it being old news which was out of date and historical. I also reflected on the memories I’ve struggled with the last few weeks and tried to remind myself that healing and time can also consume the heartache of the past and that our history enlightens our present.

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

Carry

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Carry

One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.

One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.

Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.

Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Resistance

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Resistance

Earlier this afternoon, between rain showers, I took some trash to the dump and stopped to get some gas for the lawnmower. Afterward, heading home and stopped at a traffic light, my eye caught a large raindrop in the center of my truck window. My first response was to turn on the wipers but instead, I watched it slowly slip down my windshield. The light turned green and as I began moving the wind flow pushed the large raindrop back up the glass.

The faster I went, the more resistance, the further up it went. However, when the speed was too great the raindrop split into three, one not quite as large and two smaller ones. The two smaller one rolled up the window and disappeared. Another red traffic light requiring me to stop and the raindrop began to slide down again. Green means go and I did my best to keep my speed around 40MPH because this seemed to keep the droplet in the middle of the glass. I did notice that even though it was staying put it was still getting smaller. The wind resistance was wearing away the raindrop and eventually, it vanished.

The rest of the way home I thought about the raindrop and life. We too are worn down by resistance. Time, difficulties, tragedies, and simple everyday living. If we live too fast we fall apart, not enough and it’s a quick descent to oblivion. Finding the right pace, knowing where our balance is, taking care of this fragile gift called life takes mindfulness and patience. Even when we get these things right it doesn’t mean we live forever for resistance, wearing down, out and thin is part of existence.

One life is all we get but if we do it well one is all we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Next?

Next?

A friend and I were discussing the wisdom proverb; “In each rain drop the universe is contained in full.

As with most wisdom sayings, there are many interpretations but we focused on the truth that in each moment all of life is contained. When we try to grab for more it’s like grasping water, nothing is there.

We prefer a life which is predictable. Things to be, and stay, normal. However, what we are after is control. We try to make life stay much the same as it was in the past if we’ve been relatively satisfied.

We’d prefer not to dwell on the truth that life can change in an instant and never be “normal“, the same, again. We don’t like the idea of unemployment, sickness, death, other stresses, tragedies and heartache may be what the next moment holds.

We’d rather ignore this insight and live in oblivion until life ceases to grant us this illusion. This moment is ours, nothing more is promised, nothing more need be if we treasure our only possession; now.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Next?

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What’s Next?

A fly flew up my nose today as I was mowing grass! One moment I’m on the riding mower trimming the lawn, the next I’m trying to remove this insect from my nostril! (I’ll save you the word picture of how this was accomplished. You’re welcome.) After I ensured it was gone I began mowing again and thought; “What’s the likelihood my nose and the fly would be at the same place, in the right position, at the exact time this could happen? What are the odds?” I know they can’t be zero since it happened but wouldn’t think they’d be too high either.

Life is never dull. The unexpectedness of it can be thrilling, frightening, enlightening, frustrating. When life continues to give us surprises which delight we are thrilled and count ourselves blessed. However, when life’s unforeseen circumstances continue to cause us discomfort or heartache we may wonder if we’re cursed.

Wisdom tells us to live life not expecting or anticipating. We are to be fully immersed in the now. What waits for us around the corner can not be known but if we can know true peace, stillness, in whatever our present circumstances, we can be assured we can handle what comes next.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Blessed or Cursed

Life is never predictable.

I was talking with someone yesterday about having “blinders” on when it comes to certain people. Some folks we see in a mostly positive light. We emphasize the good, minimize the bad, expect the best and see their potential. For others it’s the opposite. We are blind to their goodness. They are viewed by us in a mostly negative way. We don’t expect the best, focus on their weaknesses, anticipate what and how badly they’ll mess up, hurt us and take advantage of our generosity.

Blinders often come from good relationships or broken ones. We put them on and rarely question if we see the whole picture as it pertains to certain people, cultures and our worldview.

The discipline of viewing life as blessed rather than cursed can be one of the hardest and most important wisdom lessons we learn and put into practice. This is true especially when our journey has been difficult and we’ve seen “more than our share” of heartache, pain and loss. To look for the good, the beautiful, the “miracle” of everyday life influences each breath and every moment.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Burdens and Beauty

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Early this morning a truck backed onto our driveway and dumped a load of gravel into a carved out space next to our cabin/shed. We needed the rock to be in place before winter rains and snow turned the area into a pit of messy mud. Last week I ordered the delivery and had actually forgotten about it until I spied the truck while putting things in the Frontier I needed for my work day. It was a; “not really a surprise”…surprise!

Watching the gravel tumble out the bed of the oversize truck upon the ground I thought about life. Even though we know it can be hard, difficult and heart breaking, we’re often surprised when it dumps a load of grief and pain into the middle of our existence.

Tomorrow, I’m going to begin to spread the gravel, as evenly as I can, over the intended area and, hopefully, make a nice place for us to park. One of the greatest truths of wisdom is that it can take the burdens of life and make them into something beautiful and useful.

blessings,
@brianloging (twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Keep the Wood Dry

One of my favorite things to do is sit by our fire pit after a long day and watch the flames light up the night sky filled with stars.

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we had several rain showers move through the area. Finally, Sunday evening, they scattered to the winds leaving a damp chill in the air. I went out to the fire pit and uncovered some wood in a holder that’s protected from nature’s elements. The ground in and around the fire pit was soaked but placing the dry kindling in and putting a match to it I soon had a roaring fire that chased the dampness away. The area around the fire was wet but the wood was dry and this made all the difference.

I smiled as the flames leapt into the air and reflected on the storms that often come into our lives. They deluge us with difficulties and pain, heartache and despair, hopelessness and powerlessness. We may wonder if our lives will ever burn again with passion and purpose. The key to being reignited is to protect our spirits, a layer of shielding around our hearts and minds, to know at our center the rain cannot penetrate and when the time comes we will be ready to once again be set aflame and light up the night.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Hit or Miss

There are those days when you; “hit the nail on the head,” and others when you hit the finger instead.

Yesterday evening I finished building two doors for an outdoor lean-to we use for firewood and other misc objects. Critters have been messing around in it and I needed something to keep them out. The project wasn’t hard but my focus was off and in a relatively short amount of time I smashed my finger and hand with a hammer. I was becoming frustrated both by being off target and the pain which was shooting up my arm. Finally, doors in place, I went inside, washed and looked at my damaged digit and hand. Each one had already begun to turn purple and I rolled my eyes at my incompetence. This morning I looked again at the doors and at my bruises. The doors looked nice and will last, hopefully, longer than the damage to my hand. I also thought about all the nails that I hit on the head, drove into the wood without any problem at all.

The path we travel will have it shares of twists and turns, bumps and bruises, obstacles and heartaches. The temptation when we encounter these is to close our eyes to all the good, what’s going right, the blessings and focus solely on what’s not working, hurting us, the negative, impeding our way. The choice to look around and see the fuller picture can be the difference between keep going or giving up, hoping or despairing, living or just existing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Going in Circles

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Wednesday morning I needed to go to Nashville for a fatherhood regional meeting. I left early to beat the heavy traffic that’s notorious when you’re trying to get into the city. My GPS of choice is Waze. I like the look of it, the ability to alert other drivers of traffic, accidents, construction and be warned if you’re approaching hazards or other difficulties.

With the address plugged in I set out for my destination. Everything was going smoothly and as I approached an area known for a lot of stop and go, standstill traffic, Waze suddenly changed my route. I wasn’t sure what was happening but chose to follow its directions. It exited me off the interstate to another highway then another exit to the right and another right, straight for a few more miles and then another right which brought me back to the same interstate I was on 5 minutes before just a mile or so ahead of my previous spot. It didn’t save me any time or significantly advance my position, it just added anxiety to my journey.

The rest of the trip was event free and as my truck rolled down the road I reflected on our inclination to take short cuts, try to get ahead, around, bypass obstacles on the road of life. If we could we’d skip the painful places, the stressful situations, the locations on the path of life that bring unwanted obstructions, forces us to stop and perhaps wonder if we’ll ever get moving again.

The problem is we can’t steer clear of the unpleasant, traumatic, heartbreaking places of life. We might be able to evade them for a while but sooner or later we must traverse, experience, deal with these or risk being stuck mentally, emotionally and spiritually for a lifetime.

Getting where we need to go often times means going places we’d rather avoid.

blessings,
@brianloging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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