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Pure

Pure

One of the images I like to use with the men I work with is an illustration about a sponge soaked in water.

If I were to go to a store, find the kitchen aisle, and buy a pack of sponges, I could take them home to use as I see fit. If I opened the packaging, took out one sponge and if my kitchen sink was clean I could fill it up with water, take the sponge which had never been used, ball it up in my hand, plunge it in the water, let it go and it would soak up clean water. If I then retrieved another sponge from the packaging, took it outside, found a mud puddle, balled up the sponge in my hand, plunged it in the murky water, let it go, it would soak up dirty water. The sponge isn’t the difference, it’s the water.

It’s similar to our lives. We are mostly products of where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. If our intentions are good and our hearts are pure most likely we will produce good results and our minds and spirits will be at peace. If, however, our hearts and intentions are selfish we will have no peace and wreak havoc on the lives of others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Watching

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Watching

Last night Beth boiled tea and I prepared it to be put it in the refrigerator. I had to remove a pitcher half filled to put the full one with tea on the back part of the shelf. I’m still not sure what happened but when I put the half-filled container back in it didn’t sit fully on the shelf. As soon as I let go the pitcher I watched it fall and spilled its contents under the fridge and all over the kitchen floor. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.  This morning, the wind was blowing quite hard and I went to get a sheet we’d hung up outside. I grabbed it and began folding it as I went inside. I wasn’t watching where I was going and stubbed my toes on a big rock! They’ve been sore all day.

I told Beth last night my brain was tired. I confirmed it with these two incidents and others. It’s been tough focusing on reading or even watching TV. My brain feels as if it’s in a fog. Grief, stress, trauma, life’s challenges can sap us physically, mentally and spiritually. We must be careful to take the time needed to recharge, replenish and renew or suffer the spills and stumbling along the way.

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

Blind

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Blind

Last night a mighty storm with fast blowing winds and rain came through our area. I sat in the house listening to dead limbs being shaken from the big Oak tree in our front yard, the rain pounding on the roof. There were a few times I went outside to see the storm but the sun had already set and with the clouds overhead there wasn’t much to view. Then the power went out. It wasn’t surprising because of the fierceness of the wind. I went outside again and nothing could be seen but I could feel the wind threatening to blow me over as it had a couple of our potted trees. Finally, after a few hours, the storm had passed, the lights were back on, and I was thankful the storm has passed.

I don’t like storms at night. The biggest reason is that I can’t see anything, not even the direction of the blowing wind. As I sat in a candlelit living room, everything quiet but storm raging outside, I was reminded of life and the storms we face. There are times we see the storm coming but there are other times when one comes out of nowhere. It’s ferociousness rocks our lives and we feel blind as we try to feel our way forward. These can be the scariest of all because there is seemingly no light to see by, to make us feel safe, or to tell us we are nearing the end. The only thing we can do is wait, trusting that no storm lasts forever.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Dig

Dig

A few weeks ago I broke the wooden handle on my shovel. This week my wife bought me a new one.  It’s a Kobalt and guaranteed “unbreakable“. I did bend it a little today uprooting a stubborn bush. So unbreakable? Perhaps. Un-bendable? Nope.

It was, still is, a gorgeous day outside. Tomorrow the heat and humidity are supposed to come sweeping in but we enjoyed the moment of this day by working way too hard. We’re both exhausted but it’s a good tired.

As I dug holes for bushes and trees, filled the back of the truck with dirt and planted some grass with my new shovel I thought about the digging we do in our lives. Stillness, mindfulness, reflection are basically the same discipline with its goal to remove anything that stifles the life within us.

Digging around isn’t easy on the outside or on the inside but it’s necessary if we are to make old things new, ugly stuff beautiful, and go deep enough that growth, life, is possible.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Outside

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Outside

A few weeks ago I was working outside in my overalls. A friend stopped by and was shocked I looked so “country.” “What are you wearing?” was the first thing he said to me. I was taken aback by how he couldn’t get over my overalls. “I actually have a couple of pairs and wear them to keep from getting too dirty, they have multiple pockets to put things in, and look great with my boots!” I thought he might faint. He’s known me primarily in work and play clothes, never in yard work attire. It was as if a pair of overalls changed his view of me.

Yesterday, I almost threw myself into a political/theological argument a friend was having on Facebook. I thought better of it and remembered that social media is not the place to have deep conversations. As I read the thread of the discussion the primary antagonist held several views I disagree with and supported his arguments with not so pleasant words of attacks and insults. I finally stopped reading the conversation because my view of this man was becoming negative, judgemental and I didn’t even know him!

His beliefs and convictions are not mine but too often, like my friend when seeing me in overalls, differing points of view cause us to see people in certain ways. We use political, theological and a host of other convictions as litmus tests to place people in certain categories, judge them as unworthy, unintellectual, strange, sinful, or label them in other insulting ways.

People are more than their outward appearances and opinions. When we allow our view of them to be shaped by what we see or hear on the outside we are actually revealing more about ourselves than them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fill My Cup

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Fill My Cup

Sunday morning, heading into the sanctuary for worship, I grabbed a styrofoam cup from the coffee stand and went to a water fountain to fill it up. As I filled it with water, I was also saying; “hello” to a few people and thinking about several other things. After a while, I looked down at the cup and noticed it was only half filled. So, I kept the faucet going, felt the eyes of the person behind me waiting for me to finish, checked again and it was only half filled. I then let go of the lever to the fountain, picked up the styrofoam cup, looked at the bottom and noticed it had a big hole. The water was leaking out almost as fast as it was being put in. I emptied out the bit which was remaining and threw the cup away. I then walked down the hall to where the kitchen was located, the door was open, so I went in and grabbed a plastic cup, made my way back to the water fountain and filled up the cup with ease. I went into the sanctuary, found where my wife was sitting and stood beside her.

As we sang a chorus I wasn’t familiar with I reflected on the oft heard statement; “I hope the singing and the sermon is good this morning! My heart needs to be filled up today. I’m almost empty.” I chuckled as I thought about the first cup with the big hole. It wasn’t the fountain’s fault the cup wasn’t being filled. Maybe, instead of looking to church, concerts, special services, “good ol’ preaching,” or whatever the newest, most popular sermon series happens to be, we should check our heart for holes. This could be why we’re empty every Sunday. Too many times we look outside before inside to see what the problem may be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Our Purpose

The lawn caretakers for the church next door came early this morning, before 7AM. Luckily I was already up and taking the dog outside for his morning routine. As I stood there, in my bathrobe, I heard a noise over the sound of the zero turn lawn mowers. At first I couldn’t make it out but as I focused on the sound it became clear someone was singing. It was one of the men on the mowers. He had headphones on and whatever song was playing he was singing along with it. I began to smile. He hadn’t seen me and continued for a while bellowing at the top of is lungs. Before long he noticed me, quieted down until me and the dog went inside.For a lawn jockey he was a decent singer. He didn’t need to be any more talented than what he was because his purpose was to mow grass, take care of lawns, not entertain folks with his musical abilities.

The incident reminded me of a professor I had in college. I asked him one day; “How can we, who are so frail, weak, selfish, short-sighted and sinful, so human, ever please a God who is so good?” He smiled and took a pen from his shirt pocket and pointed out the scratches, dings and dents, faded color of the imitated gold casing and asked me; “What is the purpose of this pen? Is it to look good? Impress by its shine? Cause awe to all who behold it? Or, is it to write when pressed on to a piece of paper?” “To write.” I said. “Then it is a perfect pen because it fulfills its purpose. As long as it writes, its perfect no matter what it looks on the outside. In the same way our purpose is to love and be loved by God. Oftentimes we aren’t much to look at but if we desire to love and be loved by our Heavenly Father we are fulfilling our purpose and His love is what makes us perfect.”

He was a wise man.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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