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Into the Fire

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Into the Fire

I heard a story yesterday about a Roman soldier who fell in love with a young, Christian, woman at the height of Rome’s imperial glory. He wanted to marry her but she would not allow him to court her because he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Desperate, the young man began to follow her and eventually discovered where she met other Christians in a secret place outside of Rome. He stayed in the shadows, watched and listened as they sat around a small fire and shared their stories of being followers of Jesus. As he stood there his heart was awakened and a voice echoed inside of him; “You will never know the truth until you step into the light of the fire and have all that is not burned to ash.” This was a great challenge indeed for most Romans believed in many gods, not just one, and followers of Christ were persecuted, and executed for their beliefs. He would have to give up everything for the chance at eternal and temporal love.

As I’ve reflected on this story the last two days I’ve wondered about the power and sacrifice of love. Love is a double-edged sword. It is wonderful and terrifying. Many horrible acts have been done in the name of love. It gives the bearer great courage but can also make one a coward. Those who have loved deeply speak of the joy and sorrow, wholeness and heartbreak, feeling of ecstasy and indescribable pain. True love requires all of us. We can’t give only a portion. We must be all in or never experience the life-changing, mind-bending, chaos that is love. It gives and takes, makes and destroys, assures us and shakes us to our core. There is nothing else that can compare.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Sounds Like

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Sounds Like –

Twenty years ago this week an F3 tornado tore through downtown Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.wkrn.com/news/f-3-tornado-hit-nashville-20-years-ago_20180416214213/1126239206) We weren’t living in Tennessee at that time but we happened to be in Nashville chaperoning hundreds of teenagers at an annual talent and skills competition on the campus of Trevecca Nazarene University. When the announcement came down that all were supposed to seek shelter several of us ran to the different ball fields, tennis courts and other places where events were being held. Making sure to get everyone we saw to safety without a lot of chit-chat was important, however, one young teenage girl stopped and with fear in her eyes and voice asked me if we were in the path of the tornado? Guiding her inside as I answered; “I don’t know.” “How will we know?” she inquired. Not being a meteorologist I repeated what I once had been told; “A tornado sounds like a train!” Unbeknownst to my inquisitor, there was a set of railroad tracks behind the campus of Trevecca. At the exact time, I told her a tornado sounded like a train a train going past the school sounded its horn. “I hear the tornado! I hear the tornado!” I peered into her fear brimmed eyes, smiled and said; “Sweetie, tornadoes may sound like trains but they don’t come equipped with horns.” I got her with the rest of the students in a basement, shut the door and stood outside watching, listening for the tornado and laughing, thankful that even in this storm of chaos a light of joy can shine through.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Soul Alive

Soul Alive

Outside, under our two sheds and front porch are families of rabbits. I see them when I let out the dog, who’s too old to chase them anymore, when I drive the truck into the driveway, when I sit still long enough and wait for them to emerge from their hiding holes. It excites me. Wildlife has always had this impact on me. I slow down to look at deer on the sides of the highway or in far-off fields. Stare at Falcons and Hawks perched on fence posts or electric poles. Turkeys, skunks, opossum, armadillos, foxes, even cows grab my attention.

I grew up in the suburbs but my parents took us to National Parks as often as the could. We loved camping, canoeing, hiking, exploring. We saw lots of wildlife and even had a few run-ins with Black Bears. I believe this is where my love of nature was born and raised along with the important lessons of treating it gently, basking in its beauty and always leaving a place better than you found it.

Nature, along with other gifts we take for granted each day, bring life to my soul. I can’t imagine not being excited, filled with joy, while experiencing it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

 

Charging Stations

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Charging Stations

Where do we recharge? Where is a place we can go to renew and rejuvenate our body, emotions, mind, and spirit? One of the concepts I learned in a training I attended this week in Nashville, Tennessee was that everyone needs a safe place to go and refill, as one presenter said; “the “joy” juice.

These recharging stations are especially important if your life is filled with stress. Stress drains our brains, our souls. It has a way of stealing the “joy” from us and replacing it with a toxic combination which certainly damages us short-term and can damage us for a lifetime.

This is why places such as a church, park, gym, community center, friend’s house, favorite restaurant, mall or a backyard swing or hammock, can make a huge difference in our lives. These places give us an opportunity to breathe, clear our heads, relax, let go, reflect and process difficult experiences and relationships, simply be without needing to do anything else.

Recharging is not just for phones, tablets, and computers. It’s necessary for all of us whose batteries are running low.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Touching Life

Touching Life

I watched a video today about a woman, who is afraid of spiders, try to get past her fear by being in the same room, sitting close to one, and eventually touching one and allowing it to touch her. It was an interesting study of fear, facing what frightens us and hopefully overcoming it.

Being fearful keeps us from participating in all life has to offer. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I am acutely acquainted with fear, in fact, its one of my worst friends. I don’t know the source of my fear. One of the reasons I go to therapy is to hopefully one day discover it. Perhaps its as simple as a chemical imbalance and the right combination of medicines will mostly alleviate the ball of worry and stress which sits on my stomach most days. Maybe its memories or experiences which I’ve buried and one-day uncovering them will set me on the path to a more lasting peace.

Whatever the path I travel I want it to be toward knowing joy, not fear, connecting not being disconnected, living not simply existing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Surprise!

Surprise!

Earlier today, on the way home from a meeting, I dropped by a store and picked up flowers, a card and a small gift for Valentine’s day. I was going to hide them and then, before Beth got up in the morning, put them on the kitchen counter. She was going to be surprised and happy and this brings me great joy. I arrived home and put everything on the counter. I fixed my lunch and sat down. Not long after there was a knock on the front door. I went to see who and it was Beth. She had gotten off work early today and as she came inside I remembered the flowers, card, and gift on the counter. “Don’t look on the counter!” I yelled, knowing it was too late. Her surprise of coming home early ruined my planned surprise for tomorrow.

Life is full of well…surprises. For a while, I was irritated things didn’t work out the way I anticipated but it occurred to me that its hard to give a gift of love with frustration in your heart. I shook it off and told her; “Happy Valentines Day!”

She did say she wouldn’t open the card until tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What Do You Smell?

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What Do You Smell? –

Yesterday morning I ironed a shirt for Beth to wear to work. This particular shirt was given to my wife by a friend who passed away several years ago. However, even after all this time, the shirt still smelled like our friend. The fragrance immediately brought back nice memories of her kindness, joy, love and grace-filled life. It’s amazing what smells can trigger. I have another friend who had a rough childhood and the smell of certain foods triggers terrible memories. Scientists say smell is one of the major components of remembering the past.

I’ve thought about the shirt Beth wore yesterday and I ask myself; “What would someone think of if a smell triggered a memory?  What smells would remind others of me?” One of the central lessons of wisdom is that everything we do leaves an imprint upon another. Good or bad, negative or positive, our lives leave a fragrance to those around us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Testing, 1, 2, 3

Today was my annual Tuberculosis test for the non-profit where I am employed. I don’t like tests, shots, or pain so this was a three for three experience of joy! It’s the same every year.  I go into a small room, the nurse tells me this is going to hurt but not too much. I look away and tell her I don’t want to know when just do it. She does and then tells me to come back in 2-3 days for the results. So, I wait.

I don’t have Tuberculosis. At least I don’t think I do. Would I know it if I did? The test makes me think about it. Each year I forget what a positive result looks like so I google the symptoms and then look at my arm over the next couple of days to make sure I don’t have what I don’t think I have…

Life has a way of making us worry about a lot of stuff.  You watch, read or listen to the news you begin to worry about things you hadn’t even thought of before. You talk with family, friends and they’ll give you something else to be concerned about. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, you have enough stress and anxiety to last a lifetime.

Wisdom teaches us that agonizing, over thinking, brooding, and panic are not a healthy state of mind or emotions. Letting go of that which distresses us might not be easy but carrying around a load of tension and agitation ensure we will never find the peace which we desperately desire and need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Refelction

Reflection

As I wrote about yesterday, this has been a somber and low-key Christmas for my family. It’s been a crazy, hectic, sorrowful month. Today is Christmas day and it feels like Christmas, sort of. My mind can’t help but think about Christmases which have gone by when the family was all together and laughter and joy filled the air.

I was reflecting on Christmas past this morning as my wife slept in. Being a couple who can’t have children we’ve never had the “privilege” of little ones waking us up at 4 or 5 in the morning declaring; “Santa’s come and it’s time to open presents!” Nevertheless, I am married to a woman who loves Christmas and even in the midst of this year’s challenge to find the Christmas spirit she has filled our home with laughter, reindeer antlers on her head, too many Christmas carols and songs, baked goodies and more. She’s been this way since I’ve known her and the only Christmas I can remember her not celebrating was when her mother passed, December 8, 2006. She is in many ways a light in my darkness.

So today I am thankful for the gift of a beautiful, fantastical, in touch with her inner-child wife who won’t and can’t be stopped from bringing a little Christmas cheer.

Best. Gift. Ever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flying Off

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Flying Off

I spent most of the day traveling. Driving can be dangerous at all times but today especially as I went through Atlanta, Georgia. Over the weekend Mother Nature dumped several inches of snow in the area and though the skies were a crystal blue today and the sun shone brightly the melting snow was flying off the back of some semi-trucks. Huge pieces would be loosened by the sun and the drafts of air as they made their way along the interstate. One second you’re minding your own business the next you’re in a one-sided snowball fight!

Life has a way of giving and taking. I think we’d enjoy the good more if we knew how much the taking would hurt. Life also has a way of covering us with joy and sadness. We bask in the joy but when the sadness envelops us it can seem one-sided, unfair and unwanted.

Accepting life and all it sends us can be as easy as letting the sun shine on our face and as difficult as trying to dodge an unexpected avalanche from a semi but both are required if we are to experience life fully.

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

Reconsider

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Reconsider

This morning, while getting ready for worship, I thought of an elderly woman I used to attend church with who had some unspoken rules she followed when it came to “going to God’s house.” Two that I remember were; “No candy and women always wear dresses.” I thought they were silly rules but the woman and I had a special relationship so it didn’t really matter.

As she got older she developed breathing problems and dry mouth occurred as a result. It was then that her rule about no candy was broken so she wouldn’t cough during services. I also remember a Sunday when I called her and she told me about a rash that was covering portions of her body and all the dresses she tried on were uncomfortable. I asked the simple question; “Couldn’t you wear pants?” There was silence on the other end for a while and then a soft voice replied; “I hadn’t even thought of that.” It was after this phone call her no pants rule was broken, though still not very often.

The more rules and regulations we have the less peace. We can wear ourselves, and others, out by placing burdens of expectations on our collective shoulders. The joy we could know by living simply becomes complicated when we slap our paradigms of how things should be in different facets of life. Trusting and letting go, allowing the journey of life to unfold before us unforced and naturally, will lead us to peace of mind, body, spirit, and freedom.

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

Joy of Another

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Joy of Another

Today I got to make a phone call that was wonderful! A lot of the folks I talk to during the day are in need and are usually seeking assistance. It’s part of my vocation and I’m thankful to be of assistance, however, the call this morning was someone wanting to give me some good news, no string attached! They had reached an important milestone and knew I cared enough to want to know and would share their joy at the accomplished goal.

Being thankful for another’s success and celebrating with them is a rare gift. Too often we are focused on ourselves and what we desire that we gloss over, looking past their achievements, jealous we aren’t the center of attention.

Wisdom teaches us that when we can feel the same joy at another’s blessing, good fortune, as our own, then we are capable of true friendship and connection with another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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in the Moment

in the Moment

Yesterday, while watering flowers, a beautiful bright green Dragonfly  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragonfly) landed on the wrist of my left hand. I froze! My first thought was; “Awesome!” My second thought was; “Do Dragonflies bite?” The third was; “This’ll make a great Instagram photo!” I slowly began to walk toward my phone which was about a hundred feet away. I tried not move my arm or scare the insect in any way. Finally, I got to the phone, gently leaned over to pick it up, turned it on, entered the lock screen code and pressed the Instagram icon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram). It opened but at the same time the Dragonfly decided it would leave and fluttered away. “No!” I screamed. “Sigh.” So close.

It was an exasperating reminder that no moment can be taken for granted nor forced to last longer than what is intended. Instead of worrying about taking a picture, sharing the photo for “likes” and “comments” I should have simply enjoyed the Dragonfly sitting on my wrist and the bliss of the unique moment. In wanting to capture it I lost the joy of it happening and felt the corresponding disappointment of the moment fly away, slip through my fingers.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Hope Springs Eternal

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Earlier today I made my wife five flower boxes that she will use to plant and grow beautiful flowers and vegetables in the spring and summer. In a coat, with a runny nose, battling a chilled fall wind I built these boxes.

Why? Because I believe spring will come. When these cold days and frozen nights are gone, the flowers will blossom, the limbs will bud and the glorious sun will warm the earth and my soul.

Until then I hope. I hope not based on wishing and fantasy but on the season of spring, long days, short nights, which has always come before and I believe will come again.

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

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Fickled Time

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The alarm clock in our bedroom runs eight minutes fast. It’s a clock that should automatically synchronize with a radio signal and display the correct time but for some reason it doesn’t. We have an identical clock in the living room and it’s time keeping is excellent. In the mornings when I glance at the bedroom clock I know it’s actually earlier than the time shown. With this knowledge I stay in the warm bed just a while longer. It’s like discovering eight extra minutes!

After getting up today I wobbled into the kitchen and decided to fix myself strawberry and apple cinnamon muffins. I cheated and used the instant; “just add milk” brand, quickly prepared them, placed them in the oven and set the timer. Seventeen minutes later I heard the beep, opened the oven door and checked to see if they were ready. The muffins were golden brown but still felt mushy. I reset the timer for three minutes and closed the oven door. A few moments later the timer went off again and I rechecked the muffins and they were dark brown, almost burnt! I’m not a cook or a baker but quickly surmised that though three minutes doesn’t seem long it can make a big difference when it comes to muffins!

Time is a fickled thing. Eight extra minutes of sleep in a warm bed is wonderful, three extra minutes for muffins in an oven? Not so great. When we want an hour, a day or a season to pass quickly it seems to drag on but moments and events of joy and blessings pass quickly. 

However time seems to be moving for us, as Bruce Lee, the great martial artist and wannabe philosopher, said; “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” Socrates echoes the sentiment when he revealed a great truth; “Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.”

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

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Down and Out

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Late post this evening. I couldn’t drag myself inside on an absolutely perfect, 60 degrees, sunny, fall day.

The last two days I’ve been working on building a lean-to/workshop/man place. Yesterday it was hot, humid and thunderstorms hindered progress. No such worries today.

It’s nice sometimes to lose yourself in a project, hobby, distraction. It helps reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness, and allows us to let go of things even if it’s only for a little while.

Wisdom teaches that unless we have seasons of finding joy in small things, release the big things that burden our path, focus on the immediate, our journey will wear us out and down until there’s nothing left.

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

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