Blog Archives

Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts

Earlier this afternoon there was a knock on our front door. Unfortunately, I was indisposed and couldn’t answer it and be decent at the same time. When I finally got to the door the person was gone and all that was left was a book on the evilness of Protestantism. I picked up the book, flipped through it as I walked into the house. I put it down in the foyer and continued on with my day.

However, as I was busy with other things a thought crept into my mind; “What if someone had brushed a coat of poison on the outside cover of the book? What if there had been dust inside and as I flipped through it floated into the air and on me?” I asked my wife; “How have we gotten to a place in the world where a book left on a front porch can cause us to have thoughts of terrorism and criminal intent?”

We live in a time where nothing seems innocent. We are suspicious, judgemental, accusatory, on high alert, expecting and preparing for the worst. How do we get back to a more innocent time? Was there ever such a thing?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Gathering

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Gathering

This morning I stopped by the office on my way to a Community Group for Dads. It was cold today. Last night it was below freezing and when I left the house it was lightly snowing! I know Spring is supposed to be here but I wish it would step up and exert itself! Anyhow, when I arrived at the office there was the familiar hum of a leaf blower. Even though its cold the grass is still growing and the flowers are still blooming. I parked the truck and as walked to the office door I noticed what the maintenance man was doing. There are trees planted near the building that houses a suite of offices. Because of the wind and cold, the petals were scattered over the parking lot and in front of the office doors. Opening ours I saw them tumble into the foyer. The man operating the blower was trying to collect them into a corner and then sweep them into a trashcan. Expertly he gathered them setting the blower on high when moving them from a big space and then on low to push them into the area they needed to go.

Exiting the office, I reflected on the petals. They reminded me of the many thoughts which swirled in my head. Its Monday and my mind was filled with a list of; “to-dos, schedules, phone calls, meetings, reports, and a host of other things” which have already filled my week. My thoughts, like the petals, were scattered and needed to be gathered and sorted. I will follow the discipline of my leaf blower friend and willfully, but gently, take control where once there had been chaos by paradoxically, stilling my mind and spirit.

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

Mush

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Mush

My brain has officially turned to mush! After two full days of training in Nashville, my head organ can take no more! It is full of pieces of information, stories, facts, figures, graphs, bars, charts and more. I know in a few days when everything I received processes everything it will be worth the mental fatigue but right now it’s like my brain is in a blender set on high. My eyes are heavy from lack of sleep, my back hurts from sitting for two straight days in a non-reclining chair, my stomach hungry for homemade food and nothing pre-packaged. It’s amazing, or horrifying, that your body, mind, and spirit can be so out of sync after a couple of days.

This morning, on my way into Nashville, I listened to a prayer app and it has a time, after the invitation to pray, to pause and be silent. As silence filled the car I thought about how disjointed I felt, vowed to never work in Nashville and drive into the city every day, reflected on the difference between a room full of forty people plus four teachers and the quietude of the moment and then the app started playing scripture. I wasn’t ready for the noise. I said out loud; “Not long enough!”, then sighed and continued.

Silence is underrated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How Could He?

How Could He?

Here is Tennessee and even across America, there is a question that is on many people’s mind; “Why did the father of a five-year-old Autistic boy beat his son to death and then hide his body? How could this father then claim the boy had wandered off and allowed law enforcement officials, volunteers, and others to search areas near his home for three days thinking the boy was alive?” (http://fox17.com/news/local/dad-beat-son-joe-clyde-daniels-to-death-hid-his-body-in-remote-area-affidavit) Its horrible, vile, evil, confusing, and no matter the answers they will not satisfy a grieving family and community.

The next two days I will be training to be a trainer in Adverse Childhood Experiences. According to “SAMSHA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Agency) describes “Adverse childhood experiences or (ACEs)” as stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse. ACEs include: Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse, Physical neglect, Emotional neglect, Intimate partner violence, Mother treated violently, Substance misuse within a household, Household mental illness, Parental separation or divorce, Incarcerated household member.”(https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention/prevention-behavioral-health/adverse-childhood-experiences)

Put simply; what happens to one when growing up impacts that individual’s behavior, physical and mental health as adults. It changes the question from; “Why or How could you?’ to ‘What happened to you?” The difference is all the difference. It allows for context and the ability to understand, not approve, why a person would do something incredibly harmful to others or to themselves by researching their backgrounds, cultural, community, familial and social environments.

It will be a challenging and difficult two days especially in light of the tragedy that unfolded over the past week. However, only when our emotional and intellectual biases are confronted can we move beyond them to greater wisdom and knowledge.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mind Made Up

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Mind Made Up

Today is April 5th. I mowed my grass today because springtime makes things grow. Usually, I mow grass on Friday or Saturday. The reason I mowed today is that rain is in the forecast tomorrow and it might snow on Saturday. Snow. Did I mention we’re in the month of April?

The weather cannot make up its mind. My mind has been made up. I’m ready for spring, all of it. Not a little, not touch and go, not warm one day and cold the next, sunny and then snow. The problem is my mind made up doesn’t impact the weather or the seasons. I don’t have that kind of power. I can be frustrated that I mowed grass in jacket and toboggan today. I can be wary of cool breezes and cold noses. However, my wariness doesn’t change things either. Sigh.

So, I accept what I cannot change, understand the finiteness of humankind and remember that gaining wisdom begins with humility.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Keep What Works

Keep What Works

This advertisement was in my Twitter feed this morning. When I was a pastor who had to prepare and deliver a message each Sunday I loved the times when after the service people would come up and ask a question, make a comment or even challenge something I said during the message.  It meant they were listening! I would listen to them and then discuss whatever was on their mind. At the end of the conversation I would often tell them; “Don’t take what I say as the truth. Go search for yourself. Find out if the all or part of the message is for you and keep what works and leave the rest.” I understood that depending on where we were on our path greatly determined what our minds, emotions, and spirits could process and apply at any given moment. Most of us have had the experience of someone excitedly telling us about something they heard someone say, or read in a book, and how it changed their lives. While we are grateful for our friend’s epiphany we also think to ourselves; “I’ve told them this a thousand times and they never listened!” It’s because they weren’t ready. The good piece of advice, the important life lesson we told them wasn’t ready to be heard.

Wisdom teaches us that many truths surround us presently. However, we can only perceive a few, if any, because we are unaware, distracted. The best news is that these truths are timeless and sooner or later they’re ready to be received and applied. Sometimes we become frustrated because we seem to be learning the same things over and over. We need to learn to give ourselves a break and trust that one day the truth we’ve been searching for will be received and kept because it works.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Knocking

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Knocking

This morning I woke up with a headache. It felt like a giant was knocking on the front door of my face. I at breakfast took a pill and laid back down. It helped a little but it’s been painful off and on most of the afternoon.

Last week a friend told me he had a “secret knock” whenever he went over to his mother’s home. He said this knock was for her to know that it was him without looking out the window to see. I liked this idea both the reality and the thought behind it.

We have ideas which knock on the doors of our heads. Some of these thoughts, especially the ones filled with doubt, confusion, anger, can take us to places we don’t want to go. Wisdom teachers call this; “monkey mind” a mind filled with chatter like monkeys in a tree, never-ceasing or giving a moment’s peace. It can also be called; “thought train” which is a mind that’s on a particular set of tracks taking us to places it’s not always wise to go.

The good news is we are able to train our minds to recognize “monkey minds, thought trains” and refuse to let them take over our spirits and emotions. The key to mindful living is to be present, in the now. Our minds are not all-powerful and we do have the capability of saying; “No” to negative, repetitive, thoughts and “Yes” to those which keep us centered, balanced and at peace. We simply need to know when and when not to open the door.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Blue

Blue

Everyone has a bad day once in a while. Mine was today. It started this morning and lasted all day. It was a bad day for decisions, conversations, yard working and everything else I tried. Finally, this evening, sitting in the yard of a friend, reflecting on this terrible, bad, no good day, a Bluebird landed on a branch not far from where I was sitting. I watched it. I would love to write it turned my whole day around but it didn’t. It did, however, impress me with its shade of blue. Beautiful. It was especially gorgeous against the brown yard and my dark mood. It was a reminder of spring, newness, and rebirth. I stared at it and the simple, obvious thought; “tomorrow is a new day,” echoed in my mind and spirit. I couldn’t argue with the Bluebird and as it flew off I was thankful this day was also quickly fleeting and the next one will be arriving shortly.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Smoldering

Smoldering

On Saturday afternoon I burned a pile of branches, old newspapers, and other miscellaneous items. The smell of the ashes and leftover debris lingered in the air the next day. I had forgotten to grab an old wooden rocking chair out of the reading room which also needed to be disposed of. When I noticed it Sunday afternoon I wondered if the smoldering ash would still be hot enough to do anything. I took the chair out, broke it into several pieces and put some under the coals, which were still a faint orange, and put the rest in a pile on top. I checked it after a while and noticed the smoke had increased. About an hour later the wood was ablaze with a good flame. It didn’t take long to consume it once the fire restarted. Not too long afterward the chair was gone.

I wrote last week about the struggles I have when February rolls around. Many years have passed but the layers of hurt, anger, and uncertainty still lay buried, ready to ignite when fuel is added. What I try to do, instead of dwelling on the past, is not feed the flames. When I am aware and notice my mind drifting back to the place of pain I find a place to breathe. I close my eyes and take deep breaths. I remind myself of the truth that I cannot change the past but I can be present in the now. Does it always work? No. Does it work? Yes. Maybe one day I will be healed, maybe not, but I don’t want to give up on living today because of the difficulties of yesterday.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Temporary

Temporary

The sun, which shone so brightly the last couple of days filling my spirit and mind with images of spring, is gone today, replaced by gray, gloomy clouds. My wife’s flu bug which bit her last week seems to have been squished and she’s on the mend. The weekend is winding down and soon a new week will start.

I commented to a friend today about a photograph taken about 4 years ago that; “sometimes it seems long ago and other times yesterday.” I think that’s life. When younger I was told; “time moves faster as you get older.” It didn’t make sense to me then but now, on the other side of the hill (midlife), it’s a boulder rolling faster and faster.

The present moment, where we long to continuously dwell, is the one place that brings thankfulness, humility, and acceptance. We are thankful because we are only “grass that whithers, blows away, and its place remembers it no more.” Every moment is precious, even the ones we’d rather not experience. We are humbled by the brevity of ourselves and the things around us. Nothing is permanent which we can touch, see, feel, hear, or taste. “All things are passing away.” By accepting this truth we can choose to consciously, deliberately, live leaving nothing unfinished, and embrace this flash of light we call being alive.

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

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hate

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Hate

I listened to a conversation this week where the person told another, to their face, that they hated them. “I hated you when you left,” they said. “It took a long time to not hate you anymore.” It was an honest and startling admission. Most times people are adept at not showing the person they hate their true feelings.

It left me with a question; “Have I ever, in my life, hated someone?” I define hate; as the inability to see the good in someone. As I reflected on the question a person came to mind. If I’ve ever hated someone, according to my definition, this man fit the criteria. I had the hardest time seeing the good, the light, the benefit of his existence, the unique expression of God in him. It was, at times, impossible to not be suspicious of his motives, think of the worst outcome of his decisions, belittle his beliefs and talents. Then, one day, ranting in my head about something he had done the question came from out of the blue; “Can you see any good in this man?” My mind stopped dead in its tracks. The answer was “no, I couldn’t.” It was then I realized the problem wasn’t him it was me.

I’d love to post about how this moment fixed everything but it didn’t. However, it did give me a new way of looking at this person and my role in the frustration, anxiety, and chaos within me. It took me a long time to forgive the hurt and betrayal he had caused but I began focusing on what was going on inside of me instead of what someone was doing on the outside. This made all the difference.

“You will never see God until you can see Him in every next face you see.” #SaintMotherTeresa

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Wrinkles

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Wrinkles

This morning, per our routine, I ironed Beth’s clothes as she was getting ready for work. I turned the iron on and then took the dog outside. When I returned to the clothes that needed pressing I began to run the iron over them. My mind was elsewhere, on things I needed to do today, and so I didn’t notice the wrinkles weren’t being removed. When I finished I held the dress up to look at it and it was still full of wrinkles! “Argh!” I grunted exasperatedly.  I checked the iron and it was cool to the touch. I looked at the lights on the iron which indicate the amount of heat that is being emitted and then noticed the automatic off had been activated while I was outside with the dog. I had been gone too long.

Today is my birthday. The older I get the more I understand there’s always going to be wrinkles in my life, imperfections. I’m never going to be perfect and that’s okay. There will be days I get it right, on time, with no mistakes and other days when I wait too long, mess it up, wonder why I keep trying. Such is life and I am doing my best to live it.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

Today was busy! I know for some it was a holiday but my schedule was stuffed! The day started early and it felt like a sprint to the end of it. I don’t mind busy days most of the time because it keeps the time moving and there’s no boredom to fight off.

On the other hand, my wife had a holiday. Today is Martin Luther King day and she was able to sleep in, keep her PJs on and enjoy a wonderful day of doing nothing, purposefully. She’s been incredibly busy since November of last year and a day home, without me!, and zilch on her schedule was what she needed.

There is a thin line between balancing a healthy life or action and inaction. Our chaotic world and its need for non-stop entertainment, to-do lists, places to go, things to experience, can set a pace where eventually we burn out, fall apart, or both. We need to know when to stop, take our foot off the gas and be still; not just emotionally and mentally but physically.

Knowing, sensing, its time for a break, a rest, a lazy day is an important sense to develop and put into practice.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

The River

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The River

“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”

One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.

The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Idols and Illusions

Idols and Illusions –

I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.

This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.

Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.

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

Anticipation

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Anticipation

There is a noticeable lack of Christmas spirit in my family this year. It’s been a long year as my dad battled cancer and passed away on the first of December. The anticipation of Christmas coming has been replaced with a feeling of; “Is it over yet?” I don’t think it’s Christmas per se’ but we’re anticipating the end of 2017 and 2018 to begin.

Anticipation can be a dangerous state of mind, emotion, and spirit. For all we know, 2018 will be as rough, perhaps more so, than 2017. It’s not a pleasant thought but it is a possibility. This is why wisdom teachers discourage anticipation. Life rarely lives up to what we think, or wish would happen. It’s almost always different and this can be good or bad, negative or positive. When life fails to fill our desires suffering, pain, confusion can occur.

So, my family and many others wait in this no man’s land hoping Christmas will not be too difficult and 2018 will be a better, certainly different, year.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Attention!

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Attention!

This afternoon I stopped at a store and picked up a few items. When I was done I walked to my truck, put my seatbelt on and began to back up. My mind has been full of different and difficult thoughts the last several days and for some reason, I only glanced out my rearview mirror. When I looked again there was a woman behind me with a horrified; “This guy’s gonna run me over!” look on her face. I slammed on the brakes and waited for her to pass. I then rolled down my window and apologized profusely telling her it was my fault I wasn’t paying attention.

When I arrived at my mother’s house I asked her to wash a few items of clothes for me and she said she would. I gave her the clothes and was turning around to walk back down the hall when I heard her yell; “No!” I came back and asked what had happened and she said she had poured fabric softener where the bleach was supposed to go. I then told her my story about the woman in the parking lot and we both agreed our attention has been elsewhere.

Stressful times full of difficulties and challenges taxes our minds. We don’t sleep well, eating what’s available, our minds, emotions, and spirits quickly become depleted because our energies are used in other areas. As hard as it is we need to take time to be focused and still. Catching up on rest, eating at more regular times and a decent diet can help. Deep breaths, times of meditation and prayer, trying to be still so the muddied, frenzied water can still so we are able to see.

Finding the mindful way when the way is rough isn’t easy but it might be the only thing which will keep us sane until we reach a more welcoming and easier path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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