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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

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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

Flowers

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Flowers

Turning on the porch light yesterday I spotted a basket with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and fruit. This was one example of the flowers and plants that have been delivered, brought to the memorial service, delivered by courier to our family over the last several days. Each one comes with heartfelt condolences, sweet words, kind thoughts, and prayers. We have appreciated and placed every one of them in a prominent place in the house. I told my wife and mom today the living room looked like a botanical garden.

What’s interesting is many of these plants and flowers are in the process of dying. They are eye-catching, smell wonderful, and fill the house with color, but make no mistake, they are dying. From the time the designer cut the stems on the roses, carnations, lilies, sunflowers, and many more, they began to die. They were placed in water and other sponge-like materials to make them last as long as possible but eventually, they will wilt and be thrown away.

This happens to all living things. There is the moment of birth, growth, blossoming and adorning the world with beauty and life. However, as soon as each living thing is born it begins to die. It can be from lack of care and pass sooner or it can receive lots of attention and adoration and hopefully live a long fruitful life. However, either way, its time will come when it will be no more.

This last week has been a reminder of how soon things pass. On the way home from the memorial service for my dad yesterday I remarked to my mom; “No matter who you are or what you are going through, you always think you have more time than you do.

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

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

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

Extra

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Extra

At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”

As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Till Death

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Till Death

Today I had the honor of officiating the marriage between a young woman I have known for a long time and her finance. It was a homespun affair. The bride, groom and myself on the porch, the rest of the family and friends in mismatched chairs under two canopies to keep away the strong wind and drizzle that wouldn’t give up the fight. It was a beautiful wedding. The bride and groom truly cared for each other and it showed. They wrote most of their vows which is the norm these days. However, they still included the phrase; “Till death do us part.” Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.

Before I arrived at the home where the event was held I pulled into a church parking lot to put on my dress shirt and tie. Afterwards, since I was running early, I sat in the car and watched a family walk through a maze of headstones trying to pick one out at a Memorial and Engraving shop which was located just down from the church. I wondered about their story, the person they were looking for.

I thought about the experience after the wedding as well and hoped for a story of long-lasting love and a life-long commitment for the couple who said their; “I do’s.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stop!

Image result for ambulance lights flashing no siren

Stop

Yesterday on my way to a meeting I rounded a curve and noticed vehicles pulling over to the side of the road. I slowed down, wondering what was happening when I heard the unmistakable sound of an emergency vehicle siren. Then I saw the ambulance. He passed in the opposite lane before I could find a spot to pull over. After it was out of sight; “poof” everything went back to normal. Everyone went on with their lives.

Except. Except for the person or people, the ambulance was rushing to get to. Could be something small or life-changing. There’s no way of knowing. A person said to me one day; “When I see or hear an emergency vehicle I pray for whom it is intended.” I liked this practice. I’ve tried making it a regular discipline but often forget.

Today, a friend of mine was rushed to the hospital via an ambulance. I’ve been praying for him all day long. The difference between the two scenarios? One ambulance had a person I loved the one yesterday, no one I knew.

Perhaps, if I remembered how connected all of us on this small planet really is I’d care more, pray more and love more.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Born Again

Born Again

I desire to be born again, each day emerging from a blanket cocoon, different from the person I was yesterday. Each day we take steps toward who we will eventually be at the end of our lives. Some are making progress toward love, grace, kindness, and peace, others walk in another direction.

What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow. This is a truth I try to live by. What we put our minds to, invest our emotions in, allow our spirits to inhabit, shapes the person we’ll be tomorrow and in the future. We underestimate the “big” and “little” experiences we encounter each day. We dismiss character flaws, hidden hurts, negative habits, and other behaviors and attitudes that either place chains on our souls.

To emerge, new each day, takes work today. We choose where our path will go, not what our path will go through, but its destination. We can’t make our path easy or difficult but we can decide how we handle both. The decision isn’t on tomorrow’s agenda but today’s.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Abundance

Abundance

To be unselfish is the key to abundance. To not hold on to anything, desire anything, be covetous of anything or anyone. Abundance comes from being content and this comes from acceptance of all life brings our way.

Too often we see the lives of others or review our own lives and wish they would have turned out different brings suffering. These illusions only lead to pain and heartbreak. What we have received is only temporary. As hard as it is to accept this world only gives us transient treasures and trinkets. Whether it be people or things, our inability to control when and how they leave our lives is a lesson we need to learn.

Only eternal gifts last. When we are given them we may hold on to them as tightly as possible but to do this we must let go of what we hold dear that is not eternal. Transience is not evil. To love those who bring wonder, kindness, and love to our life is not wrong. However, it is a bittersweet connection because it is temporary. While this is painful to know and experience it also makes every moment more treasured.

Most of our lives are full of abundance but knowing they are not ours forever is the test of true life, true love, true wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Reacting

Reacting

What are you reacting to? Such a wonderful and powerful question.

We live in a reactive world. Opinions, biases, judgments, loyalties, choosing sides, seems to be what everyone around us is doing. We don’t have to ask for someone’s thoughts on a matter before they tell it to us anyway. Social media is a primary culprit but I’ve heard stories of this happening in restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. People can’t shut up or stop typing. It is a wonder anyone can find interior peace when the exterior world bombards our ears with a cacophony of noise and words.

The space in between” is a difficult discipline which needs broader acceptance. Basically, it teaches that between the incident and the comment is the moment to choose our response. Between the action and the reaction, we have the ability to make the situation better, the same, or worse. In the immediate time following an experience we have the ability to make it more or less unstable.

Reacting, choosing, deciding, what our reaction to a stimulus will determine our destiny. Will we be thoughtlessly reactive, speak without considering, act without thinking about the outcome? Or, will we remember the “space in between” and so grace, kindness, and love?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fear

Fear

I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.

As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.

The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.

Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free Zone

Image result for cell phone free zone

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

Fear

Image result for big black spider fuzzy tennessee

Fear

Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.

A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.

After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.

Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.

As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Purpose

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Purpose

Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.

The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.

Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.

I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Filling

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Filling

This morning I went to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist! I went at 7:30AM because thinking about the appointment all day would make my anxiety grow by the hour. This way I wake up and go straight there and get it over. I take my phone and ear buds along with me to listen to, a dose of anti-anxiety medicine, and the dentist provides comforting words, gentle work and a supply of Nitrous Oxide (https://www.google.com/search?q=nitrous+oxide&oq=nitrous+o&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2956j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8). When I first went to the dentist we sat and talked about my anxiety and claustrophobia issues. He understood and has done a fantastic job making me feel the least anxiety as possible. After it was over I left, slightly woozy but two teeth which needed fillings done completely.

The dentist is one of those things in life you don’t want to do but know have to be done. Know matter how much worry, dread, and procrastination, sooner or later you have to go and if it’s too much later you will regret it. As the numbing in my lips and gums wore off I thought about other things in life we don’t like to do but should. Forgiving people who have hurt us, asking forgiveness of those we have offended, reflecting on difficult and painful situations and asking; “What did I learn?”, allowing wisdom to search the deepest places in our lives, filling the holes in our minds, emotions, and spirits to be filled with kindness, love, and grace. These are never easy but waiting until we are ready might mean we never reach a place of healing and peace.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Out of Sight

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Out of Sight

This past weekend I wrote about a tiny gray cat that has been hanging around the house. The last time I saw it was on Saturday. I had been putting food out for it hoping to convince it we meant no harm but unfortunately, the neighborhood dogs beat the kitten to the chow. It started raining yesterday afternoon and has been steady since then. Remnants of Hurricane Irma is giving us plenty of water and a bit of wind. My worry, however, is the kitten. Is it dry? Did a neighborhood dog get it? I haven’t seen it since the weekend and I have no idea where it is or what happened to it. So, I wait and see. Hopefully, it’s still hiding under the porch and will come out after the storm passes.

There are people in our lives like the kitten. A storm begins to batter them and they hide, afraid of its downpour and thunder. We long to help them, to show them kindness, to meet whatever needs we can if they would just come out of hiding. However, like the kitten, there are trust issues and perhaps they’ve been hurt before by people pretending to help or they’re used to people taking not giving. What do we do? We wait. If they come out of hiding during the storm we can cover them with acts of kindness. If they wait until after this is fine also. Kindness and love have no expiration date.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Small Things

Small Things

It’s the small things that get us. A careless word, a roll of the eye, an exasperated sigh, a forgotten date, a critical comment when kindness would be better.

I spoke to a group of men this week about the importance of body language. It is estimated that 80% of our communication is done through hand gestures, facial expressions, posture, animated arms, and legs. Often, before even a word is said, we’ve said plenty. The “vibe” we give off from the way we stand, cross our arms, refuse to make eye contact gives messages of distance, frustration, and anger. Whatever our chosen words may be we’ve begun a conversation simply by being in the presence of others.

Small things can encourage or discourage dialogue. Tiny twitches can mean the difference between hurting someone’s feelings and lifting them up. Miniature motions can give away our opinion of another prior to us getting to know them.

I watched a video this week of a woman pontificating on Hillary Clinton and the rumor of the former presidential candidate. Her words were sharp and judgemental and her body language said even more. The spark of sarcasm in her eyes, the shaking of her head, the impish smirk, almost everything about her spoke of her disapproval. Toward the end of the video she spoke of love, forgiveness, and grace but nothing about her showed true humility, one sinner telling another where to find grace.

“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thinking

Thinking

One of the easiest lessons of wisdom to learn is you are what you repeatedly think or do. One of the hardest wisdom disciplines to practice is thinking and doing good things.

Aristotle said, paraphrased by Will Durant; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” So what we keep thinking and keep doing reveals who we truly are, on the inside. We can say we are kind, loving, grace-giving, but if our thoughts and deeds betray us we must come to the reality of who we are if we desire to change or be at peace through acceptance.

For those like myself who live with depression, one of the cycles we can get into are negative thoughts about ourselves. We relive painful moments, negative events, over and over again. We get stuck with thoughts of how we could be better, how terrible we are, and how little we can offer the world and those closest to us.

Being caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, reliving mistakes and mishaps is called ruminating. For those battling depression the thoughts can literally go on for days, weeks, months. When we are doing well, on a plateau, we can catch ourselves and refuse to hop on these train of thoughts. When we are struggling our thoughts can take us down tracks from which we may never recover.

I like the Zen saying; “You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you don’t have to sit and serve them tea.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free

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Free

On Monday I wrote about installing a light for a friend on a high wall of a building (Highs & Unknowns) (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/06/25/highs-and-unknowns/).  It was hot on that ladder and my hands and arms were dripping sweat as a vent from the building blew out hot air making it even more stifling.

I’m not a big fan of heights but I made the decision to go up and not look down. I had a hand towel to dry off my hands, arms, and forehead and used it to get a better grip on the light and keep the sweat out of my eyes….all for a friend unable to make the climb.

When we take on a burden from a friend, when we set out to help someone, we do it, hopefully, out of love, kindness, and concern. The challenge becomes when, if, the burden become greater than we realized. The decision must be made repeatedly to continue to carry on, not give up, look for the extra strength needed, to not give up or give in until the burden can be laid down and both are free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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