Blog Archives

Stability

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Stability

You never cheated on your wife?!?!” “How long have you been married, and you never stepped out on her?” “What about her? Has she ever cheated on you?” “26 years and nope.” was my answer to a young man who wasn’t insulting me, or being flippant, but was genuinely astonished. I understood why he was asking. He is from a broken home, has siblings by other women and his father isn’t a good role model. On the other hand, I come from a home where my mom and dad have been married a long time, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, have given me multiple examples of stability, faithfulness and purposeful love.

As we continued our discussion and after his surprise wore off, I told him; “This is why it’s important that you be a good role model for your kids. You can teach them what a good relationship looks like, how men and women can communicate in a positive way. You can be what your father wasn’t for you and your children will be much better off.”

Fidelity, love, honor, respect; words that can mean the difference in our lives, the lives of those we love and folks with whom we share our life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Another Way

Another Way

Our little farmhouse has many quirks. One of the most frustrating is no back door. At one time there was one in the kitchen but someone filled that one in and installed a dishwasher. Today, the handymen made a doorway out of a window in the hallway next to our bathroom they are remodeling. It was loud and dusty but they got it done and it looks great!

I sit here today with concerns about friends, family, and acquaintances on my heart and mind. A good man who I grew up with lost his father in a motorcycle accident on Easter Sunday. Another friend’s father has a mental illness that’s beginning to impact his family’s life and a tough decision will have to be made soon. Still another friend is facing a big battle filled with an extensive surgery and an even more difficult recovery.

I find myself wanting another way for these people who are suffering so much in different ways. I wish I had the power to create one. A way not filled with the pain of death, the uncertainty of life filled with disease. If I could I would knock down whatever obstacles which stood in their path but regretfully I do not have that kind of power.

What I can do is pray, offer and give any help needed and trust that though another way may not be available, the way of kindness, love, and grace, are still the balm of healing and new life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flowing

Flowing

This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.

Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.

Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Unseen

Unseen

Last night I buzzed the tower at the County Jail to let them know I was there for our Dad’s class. They unlocked the several doors I have to go through to get to the classroom. I stopped about half way, opened my travel box and retrieved the list of names for the evening’s class.

I walked up the stairs to the tower where several men were sitting on one side of the octagonal room. As I handed the list to the corrections office in charge I turned to the men and asked; “how are you guys doing?” “Good,’ came the reply; ‘but there aren’t just men here.'” I looked around and on the other side of the room, sitting by herself was a woman corrections officer. I apologized for not noticing her and she accepted. If it wasn’t for the male officer I never would’ve noticed the woman.

I was talking with a friend this week who said he believed God had shown him his presence in a special way. I responded that I think God regularly shows himself to us; “We’re just too occupied, unaware to notice.” The conversation came back to me last night when I was unaware of the woman officer.

The Bible speaks of “serving angels unaware.” I wonder how many times we miss God’s presence, a stranger’s need, a chance to show grace, kindness, and love to a world which to see and experience it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Important

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Important

In a conversation the other day someone made the statement: “I’d really like you guys to pray for me. I have a business meeting tomorrow and it’s the most important meeting of my life!” I thought for a moment about what he said, figured it was hyperbole, but didn’t want to take the chance. I responded; “It’s not even close to the most important meeting you’ve had or will have in your life. You’ve met your wife, your son, and there have been and will be countless meetings where you will show love, grace, and kindness to others. These meetings will be the ones that count. This meeting tomorrow? Twenty years from now you’ll look back on it and wonder why you worried or even cared.”

Too often we place too much emphasis on things which may matter a little but pale quickly in comparison to the truly important. Every now and then we need to be reminded and refocused. As it was for this man, may it be for me and for every one of us.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carry Us in their Hearts

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Carry Us in their Hearts

“What everyone needs to know is
that someone carries us in their hearts.”

This was a line from a lecture I heard today. The subject was people who have and those who do not have a sense of being worthy and loved. It was an interesting webinar and after it was over the words above found a place in my spirit. Each of us long to be loved by someone. We want to know we’re cared for, not because someone “has to” but because someone wants to.

In my battle with a major depressive disorder, the lie the disease tells me which hurts the most is that I am unlovable. It doesn’t whisper to me that no one loves me for I know that is not true but its propaganda is far more sinister. It plants the untruth in my spirit that I am not worthy of another’s love, that people only love me because they don’t see the darkness within. If they knew the struggle to return their love, the doubts, the fears, the impulses, they would find someone more worthy of their affection and devotion.

Even those who do not grapple with an illness such as depression need to know the tenderness and intimacy of another. We all desire to “know that we are carried in the heart of others.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabsaint.com

Our Greatest Gift and Need

Our Greatest Gift and Need

This morning at church, a video was shown of a woman whose testimony included her first memories of involvement with Christian people. Her family was very poor and people from a church would bring her and her family food, clothing, whatever they could to help these in need. She credits this with why she is still a part of the community of faith today.

After the video the following verses were read from the Gospel according to Saint Luke, chapter 16;
“There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man’s table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores.  

“Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I’m in agony in this fire.”

The “rich” compassionless man and the poor needy man switched placed at death. Now, it was the “rich” man who was in need and the “poor beggar” who had plenty.

One of my favorite wisdom quotes is; “Kindness is my religion. Kindness (another word for compassion) is always within our power to give.

Too often we mistake our communities of faith for dogma, certain beliefs, attendance of services, giving of our time, talent and treasure to the community. These are all certainly important but they can never replace kindness, love, compassion. If the former does exceed these we will turn cruel, judgmental, hostile. We will find it is us who are in the greatest need for we have lost our greatest lover.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Old and New

Old and New

Yesterday, on my Facebook memories page, was a picture I took of a wonderful couple Beth and I know in Pennsylvania. It was taken in March of 2014 just after beginning my sabbatical. The smile on both their faces portrayed the genuineness and kindness they had shown Beth and me for many years. They were only in town for a Sunday and after church, we went out to eat. As usual, they picked up the tab and the photo was snapped before we said our goodbyes.

I was in all kinds of pain at that time but didn’t have a real grasp of the mental and emotional toll the previous years had taken on me. I’m still coming to grips with a lot of it.

We had moved from a people, place we loved and had no idea what was ahead. Everything seemed to swirl around us and we could not seem to find a place to plant our feet and get our bearings. Then, along came this couple back into our lives. It was a reminder that love, grace, kindness were still present even though the winds of upheaval seemed to strip away all we held dear.

Most of 2014 seemed like the end of life as we’d known it. It would stay that way for next year. However, slowly we found our feet on firm ground and began building something new.

This evening I am thankful for old friends and new beginnings.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

New Life In Dead Things

New Life in Dead Things – 

This morning I was walking, reflecting, on a number of things in a friend’s yard where we are spending the weekend. As I ambled around I came across a rotted tree stump about three feet tall (pictured). I jiggled it a little then a lot and soon it came loose and broke off from the bottom. Carrying the piece of dead wood to a place to throw it away I felt a flutter by my hand and looked down in time to see a bird fly up and land on a tree limb nearby. At first I thought it strange for a bird to fly that close but then I examined the dead stump in my hand. Looking closely I spotted a hole in the trunk about a quarter size with tiny red dotted eggs. I realized I had, like a giant movie monster, yanked up the bird’s home and carried it off. I gently righted the stump and took it back to where it was removed. I hope the mama bird will return.

It was a wonderful reminder that life can be found even in places which appear desolate, dark and dead.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Left Behind

Left Behind

Whew! It’s been a long day! So, this will be a short entry.

Today, Beth and I went through the belongings of a dear friend who passed a few years ago. It was both erie and interesting.

To know one day each of our lives will be reduced to a few boxes, pieces of furniture and other knick knacks is a great lesson in humility. Truly, what we do, who we are is what matters in the short time we exist in this planet. What a shame it would be to just be remembered for the trinkets we left behind instead who we were and the lives we impacted.

Thankfully, my friend lived a life that touched many, didn’t collect a lot of useless things and as we went through her left-behind belongings they paled in comparison to who she was and what she left in us by her love and grace.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Vulnerability or Weakness?

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Vulnerability or Weakness? –

I was talking with someone today about the difference between weakness and vulnerability when it comes to relationships.

Weakness is not having power. An inability to stop, inhibit, make someone quit or start a particular behavior. Weakness is not being able to choose.

Vulnerability, however, is having the strength to do or not do a particular behavior. Vulnerability comes from a place of power a place of being able to choose.

When we are weak in a relationship it means the other has power over us. We are at their mercy, control and cannot choose another way.

When we are vulnerable it means we have power but can choose to approach, love, be with the other in a place that puts us at risk.

If we need to be in control at all times, dominate the other with reminders of our power we will never know true love and intimacy. Both of these come from a place that bears an inherent risk; to be wounded, to be left powerless.

Weakness and vulnerability. Knowing and practicing the difference can mean a life of togetherness and equality or isolation and loneliness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Covered

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Covered

It snowed last night and today. It’s not a lot but a few inches and everything is a pristine white. The other day I was complaining about the brown, gray, dead look of winter and today the season revealed it too, can be beautiful. I’m not a fan of snow but the way it covers everything, makes it all look different, changes and challenges my outlook, even for a short moment, is wonderful.

The quote in the picture also reminds us that we have the power to change a difficult season for ourselves and others with acts of kindness. I would add; love, grace, forgiveness.

I told someone this week; “You sure are complaining a lot!” I now wish I would have blanketed them with compassion and compliments and perhaps, in their difficult season, their outlook on life would’ve changed, even briefly, and the world would’ve been better for it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
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A Strange Season

A Strange Season

When I was growing up Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with family, food and gifts. We were at one grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day. In between was the opening of gifts followed by a big breakfast with my parents. It was a special time and for me never to be repeated.

People say the magic of Christmas is lost as you enter your teens and twenties but can be recaptured when you have children and eventually grandchildren. The joy, excitement, anticipation in a child’s eyes can reignite the ember within. Christmas can also transform into a time of being with family and friends. Instead of gifts you open your hearts to others and allow relationships to be renewed.

Beth and I don’t have any children so recapturing the Christmas Spirit this way isn’t an option. We live near Beth’s family and she loves spending time with them. Her Christmas Spirit is almost always burning brightly. She comes from a large family who welcome me with plenty of love and open arms but the amount of people in a confined location triggers my social anxiety. I’ve tried a few times in different settings to be a part but it’s difficult to be comfortable while fighting a real battle on the inside.

So, Christmas has become a strange time for me. I have not given up hope for the return of the Christmas Spirit. I am thankful for it being on a Sunday this year and the chance to celebrate it with others. I’m also thankful for a wonderful wife who supports me and the challenges I try to overcome each day. Knowing when to push, when to hold, attempting to understand what I have a hard time describing. She is my greatest gift.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Zap!

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Zap!

Several weeks ago, before our first cold weather of the season, we brought in the flowers which aren’t made to withstand winter’s wrath. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring in several Aloe vera plants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera). They look terrible; drooped over, a brownish green, with no signs of vitality or health. The question is; “Did the winter weather zap these plants with enough cold that there is no hope for revitalization?”  We’re going to put them on a counter in the kitchen that gets plenty of sun for the rest of the winter to find out. Hopefully, with care and attention, they’ll bounce back.

Wisdom teaches us that life and its harsh seasons can zap us too! In one we’re thriving then another comes full of challenges and difficulties and the vitality and health seem to be drained from us. We may wonder; “Is there any hope? Will we bounce back? How much can we take before it’s too much?

Like the Aloe vera plants, wisdom tells us to find a place to recuperate. We are to care for ourselves paying attention to the damaged places and let time, rest and the warmth of love and grace help us recover.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Repeat After Me

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Repeat After Me

This morning I gave a lecture to a group of parents at a Head Start (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs) location in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The topic was the difference between discipline and punishment. Basically, the purpose of discipline is to teach, model, have a long-term view of who and what parents want their children to become. Punishment is a short-term consequence of poor behavior and/or decision-making. For a child to stay on the right path discipline must be consistent and punishment should never be greater than the lesson being taught. When the punishment is greater the lesson trying to be conveyed is lost.

The presentation went well but there was a translator in the room for a group of Spanish-speaking families. I’ve had a translator before but not enough times where I am used to the partnership. I either go too long and the translator has too much to translate or speak in incomplete, chopped up phrases which make it difficult for the ideas I’m attempting to relay not to get lost in translation. When it was over I thanked the translator and she assured me it went well which made me feel better but I think she was being nice to spare my feelings.

As I was driving back from Lewisburg I thought about how different the world would be if we had to wait for the words we said to be translated to the person to whom we were speaking. What if we were forced to take breaths between thoughts, make sure we said only what needed to be said instead of talking incessantly? To be sure how our words were heard, received by the other?

I think, hope, if we used a translator for every conversation we would choose our words more carefully, ensuring the intent of what we said was being conveyed, use far fewer words, and the space in between what was being said and translated to prayerfully seek that what was being said and received was with wisdom, grace and love.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Thanks for the Memories

Thanks for the Memories – 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at a place we’ve been going for years. When people ask I tell them we’re going to the Barrel’s for our holiday meal and they usually respond with; “I don’t think I know them.” Then I explain we’re going to Cracker Barrel for our meal.

We arrived around 1pm and the place was packed!  Folks were parking in the grass and any place they could fit their vehicles.  We placed our name on the list and was told it would be 30 minutes but our party was called in less than 5. Awesome! The meal good the company nice and no clean up necessary.

When we first started hitting the CB many years ago on Thanksgiving there wasn’t nearly as many people as recently. Now, the secret is out. People like the idea of others doing the work and they enjoying the benefits.

I can’t say that there isn’t something missing from Thanksgiving pasts, being with just family, the food being cooked exactly the way you like it to be, people you know and love being squeezed into a dining room, sharing familiar stories, laughing at old jokes and having that magical mix of love, nostalgia, and too many people in too small a room.

Unfortunately those times are long ago and seem long gone. However, its not forgotten and even in Cracker Barrel I carry those memories in my heart and enjoy new ones being made.

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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Look Around

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Look Around

Earlier today I stopped by a store to pick up a few items and proceeded to the cashier to check out. There was a line of two people who were clearly friends in front of me. What I noticed was the employee doing their best to greet the two women but they didn’t stop talking long enough for her to do so. She rang up their items, gave the total, received the cash, handed their change back, hoped they had a nice day, all while the pair hardly noticed her existence. After they left, I stepped forward and made sure to connect with the cashier so she knew she wasn’t invisible.

I wasn’t angry with the two women who were chatting amongst themselves for I too have been wrapped up in my world and failed to notice someone. However, it was a good reminder that it’s far too easy to allow other people to go unnoticed. Those who may need recognition, an open ear, a kind word, a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, an embrace, a connection, a relationship, are all around us. May our eyes, minds and spirits be open to them.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Two Sides 

Two Sides – 

Earlier this week I received a phone call about a father who needed help as soon as possible. There were insurmountable and dangerously difficult obstacles he was facing and the concerned caller made sure I understood the need for me to connect with the dad.

So, I called the dad and explained why I was calling and offered my immediate assistance in anyway I could help. After a long pause the father told me; “Thank you.” but he was fine, handling everything life was bringing his way and appreciated my offer but at the present time wasn’t sure he needed any. I told him again if he changed his mind to call me anytime. He said he would and we disconnected.

I was confused at the original caller’s insistence of the father needing immediate help and the dad’s assured response that he was doing just fine. I then reflected on the wisdom teaching of knowing all sides to each story and person before acting. Once again it’s a lesson hard to remember and to put into practice. 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Kindled 

Kindled

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It’s warm enough in the day to work but not sweat too much and the evenings are cool enough to sit around a fire pit.

Last night I gathered some wood, made a fire and enjoyed the warmth as the sun set. To keep a good fire going you need to rotate the wood as it burns and adjusting the pieces so the fire doesn’t run out of fuel. During one of the adjustments last night a hot ash jumped over my head and onto my back. It quickly burned through my shirt while I shimmied, loudly saying; “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Finally, most of the pain subsided and I sat down once again enjoying the fire but still, every now and then, feeling the burn.

Wisdom teaches us that it takes frequent adjusting to keep the fire lit inside. If we aren’t careful the flames quickly turn to embers and can be snuffed out. Accepting these alterations isn’t always easy and can be painful. However, the pain is temporary and a kindled fire in our spirits can last an eternity.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Settling

Settling – 

This morning, as I was preparing to go to the office, I  heard a sound; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” And again; “Knock, Knock, Knock.” I checked the front door and no one was there but the knocking continued. Then, as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes would do, I stood perfectly still and waited for the next, “Knock, Knock, Knock.” and began following the sound to the source. I did this until I was ear to wall with the front porch. The sound was definitely coming from the other side. I tried spying through the window blinds but could not get the right angle as the, “Knock, Knock, Knock” echoed through the house. I walked back to the front door opened it and the screen door as quietly as possible. I crept along the side porch until I could see a female Woodpecker, who also saw me, and flew away. She was knocking on a piece of scrap wood. About twenty-five feet away from this warped and splintered two by four is a giant Oak tree. I wondered why did the bird settle for a snack when she could’ve had a gourmet meal? 

I also reflected on the truth that too often we settle for a trinket when there’s a treasure waiting, chase after worthless shiny objects when the most important things are there if we would alter our gaze. Wisdom tells us; “Don’t settle for scraps. Wait, keep searching, what you seek may be just around the corner.” 

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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