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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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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

Messy Good

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Messy Good

Today I sat on a stool in the kitchen while my wife cooked a dish for the family Thanksgiving meal. I watched her boil noodles, crack eggs, mix in cheese, add milk, thick whipping cream and whip all of the ingredients into a thick bowl of mush. It didn’t smell, look, or appear appetizing at all. She then poured it into a large glass casserole dish and slide it into the oven. About an hour later out came one of my favorite dishes, “Nana’s macaroni and cheese!” It looked great, smelled even better and, when it cools off, I will have a large serving and enjoy every bite.

It’s amazing to me how something so messy and chaotically made can turn into something so tasty good and wonderful. This week has been rough! Someone close to me is going through hell and the only thing I can do is pray and offer words of encouragement. One of the hardest experiences to endure is knowing you’re powerless to stop someone else’s suffering. Pain, medicine, bad reactions, heartache, death. Life can be messy, unseemly, and at times unbearable.

However, there is a light which stirs in us a hope that the chaos, the turmoil, the misery, somehow, someway, will be made into goodness and worth the messiness life can bring our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Forgive

Forgive

I found this to be an interesting quote. I’m not sure how to forgive; “everything” or if everything needs forgiveness but certainly believe that forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is in short supply.

We live in a world where everyone seems angry over something. We fight with family, friends, strangers, internet buddies, internet trolls about banal topics that are of no consequence and about subjects with grave consequences. The problem is we can’t tell the difference and fight over everything.

To live with an attitude of forgiveness, to be a walking, breathing living example of forgiveness in a world that hates, fights, shames, shuns, is to invite hurt, pain, betrayal, and accusations of being out of touch. However, it’s also the antidote to the poison that threatens to kill all we hold dear.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Open for Change

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Open for Change –

Yesterday I was getting ready to go teach a class and as I was getting y shoes and belt together I stubbed my toe on a box fan. It hurt and when I yelled; “Ow!” our Siberian Husky Trooper came to investigate and ended up underneath my feet. My first reaction was to turn my pain and frustration on him. “Trooper! Get out of the way! Go to your bed!” These sentences were on the tip of my tongue but I stopped them before they came out. It wasn’t him that wasn’t paying attention, not looking where he was going, was in a hurry and should have slowed down taking a more time. That was me. So, at first through clenched teeth I said in the sweetest voice I could muster; “Troop, why don’t you go back to your bed.” He did and I rubbed my toes until they felt better.

The class lesson was on being; “Open for Change” when we communicate and interact with each other. Two of the core principles are; “Realizing changing for the better starts with you, not the other person.” The second is; “Be open to criticism.” In other words, communication, and interaction require a willingness to be corrected, told how you can become a better person. Too often we stop listening when someone begins to criticize when perhaps that’s when we should listen the most intently.

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

Hate

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Hate

I have a friend who is dealing with a broken relationship in his life.  He has tried reaching out, apologizing, offering to make good on the accused slight he did to the offending party but nothing has worked. The wounded one doesn’t want anything to do with the other, has expressed his hatred for my friend numerous times, and it is bothering my friend something fierce.

He asked the question; “What else can I do?” after he listed all the things he’s tried to do to make up for something he’s not even sure he did. “You’re going to have to let them hate you.” I know this isn’t the answer he wanted but it was the only answer to give. When someone has been hurt by us whether we meant to or not it is not within our power to make them forgive us, to restore a broken relationship. As soon as we become aware of the pain, betrayal, we’ve caused we should immediately go to them, express a contrite and sincere spirit of sorrow apologizing for the behavior and offer to make penance to satisfy the other who has been wronged. If they accept, that’s great but if they don’t accept we have to live with that and though it’s not easy it is our only option.

What we hope for, pray for, look for every opportunity to make it right again in the future. However, for now, we must bear the burden of hate, knowing we have done all things within our power to right the wrong. We live with their hate and the separation hoping a time will come when both can reconnect and restore what’s been torn apart and destroyed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sight

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Sight

I have a friend who has vision problems. Not eyesight but “heart-sight.” My friend was hurt a while ago by a group of people and is having difficulty letting go of the pain and rejection felt, still feels when the experience is thought about, re-lived.

My friend recognizes the blinders has upon their heart and mind. They realize the past keeps them from seeing any good in the ones who hurt them. His vision of them is dark, judgmental and biased. In their minds, there is a reluctance to admit there are good and positive things about them but the heartbreak makes even their most magnanimous acts of kindness and grace be viewed with suspicion.

How,’ they ask, “How am I supposed to get past this? How long before I can move on?” I tell them the stories of my pain. I explain to them there is no timetable to heal a heart and soul deeply wounded. It takes as long as it takes. I remind them also that each of us has done things we would do differently if we could. I also remind them not to give up, not to allow the heartbreak to twist their soul and become embittered and unable to see the good in others again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Keep Your Head

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Keep Your Head

Yesterday, after coming home from worship, I changed from my Sunday best into my “not so best” and went into to the kitchen to make myself from lunch. I grabbed a burrito shell, sprinkled a bit of cheese on it, popped it into the microwave and “viola!” a cheese burrito. While the burrito heated up I picked up the cheese and burrito packages to place them back in the fridge. As I was doing this I dropped the cheese package on the floor. I bent down, pinched it with my fingers, lifted it up and began to stand up. However, I had misunderestimated how close I was to the fridge. As I swung my body up my head came in contact with the edge/corner or the freezer door. “Ow!” It hurt so badly I thought I might pass out for a second. Keeping my bearings I backed away, stood up all the way and held my head as it throbbed. Later, when Beth got home, she looked at it and noticed it was swollen. “You have a nice Goose egg right there!” I didn’t know what birds had to do with my head but I did know I wish I would’ve paid more attention to where my head was at.

We’ve heard people say; “I lost my head!” when they’ve let their temper get the best of them, forgotten something important or have no idea what’s happening around them. Keeping our heads, being focused, in the present moment is essential. Knowing where we are, when we are, how we are doing and what can save us from injury, harm, pain, and Goose eggs.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Checking In

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Checking In

Yesterday afternoon a man wielding a machete walked into a local bank and took 9 people hostage. His intent apparently wasn’t money but the result of a relationship gone bad and most likely a mental health issue. The standoff lasted several hours into the evening. In the end, all the hostages were released. I didn’t find out about this situation until long after it had begun because I had taken a nap and read that was at a Chic-Fil-A several miles from where my wife works.

When Beth got home yesterday she was distant and I couldn’t figure out why. I asked her and she responded that everyone else at the bank had gotten a call or text from their significant other regarding the standoff at the bank but I didn’t check in to make sure she was okay. It hurt her feelings. After listening I told her; “Babydoll, I didn’t know it had happened, that it wasn’t at a bank or close to your location.” I could tell my reasons weren’t resonating with her. So, I apologized. I wasn’t sure what I was sorry for except she was hurt and this was enough.

Too often we don’t want to apologize, especially if we feel we’re in the “right.” Asking forgiveness is like pulling teeth when we can offer a defense. Wisdom teaches us that if another person is harmed we should feel empathy, sorrow and do whatever we can to ease the pain and heal the wound.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Rolling in the Deep

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Rolling in the Deep

Today I had my annual doctor’s visit. It went well with lower weight and blood pressure. Although I was happy with the outcomes of these I knew what was coming. They had to draw blood. I don’t like needles, small rooms, people breaking my personal space, so this was not going to be fun. The nurse was likable and chatty. I told her; “Just do what you have to do. I’m not going to look. I don’t want a warning. I want it over.” She understood and began tapping my veins to find a good one. She said; “Oh! This is going to be easy. You have nice big veins. What she didn’t realize was my veins like to roll. She stuck me, “Ouch!”, and began trying to pin on of them down. She couldn’t do it. After trying to catch the vein with the big metal needle she had in my arm she took it out and tried to find another one. Locating it she stabbed me again and once again couldn’t pin the rolling vein. Finally, she said; “Let me see if another person will have better luck.” I waited and the next nurse came in, began exploring my other arm, found a vein, and struck blood on her first try. “Whew!” When she was finished I was thankful to get out of that office.

After leaving the office I thought about the interior work of wisdom. Sometimes it is a lot like drawing blood from an uncooperative vein. The lessons learned, bring pain and there doesn’t seem anything to show for it. However, if we keep at it, sooner or later the innermost parts of us are touched and the fruits of our searching produce needed results.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carry

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Carry

One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.

One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.

Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.

Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Alarm

Alarm

Yesterday I went to a Lowe’s Home Improvement store to return a fan I bought a few weeks ago that wasn’t working correctly. As I walked through the doors I passed those security scanners most stores have and they went off! I stopped suddenly and looked at the customer service desk with a; “I’m not stealing, I’m returning!” One of the attendants turned the alarms off and told me to walk back through them and go to the other side of the customer service counter. I did what she said and the alarms went off again. This time ignored them and kept walking to where I was told. I gave her the broken fan she gave me the money and off I went.

Afterward, I retrieved a new fan and began to reflect on my alarm adventure. I think these types of scanners would come in handy when we are dealing with people. Some folks are experts at hiding what they’re experiencing, the troubles, challenges, difficulties, and burdens they are carrying. It would be great to know what others are going through so we could help them in times of crises.

While no such scanner exists we do have ears, which if put to good use, can listen and pick up on words and phrases used by someone who is struggling. We have spirits, if they are tender, can feel the pain others are facing.

Being sensitive to the weight others are carrying helps us be there for each other and to share the load on this journey we call life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Flight

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Flight

Earlier this afternoon I was burning some old pallet furniture we no longer use. It was creating quite the bonfire in our fire pit. As I kept watch over it a big Red Wasp landed on a piece of wood that was too large to fit in the fire pit. Its wings were vibrating and it was alighting from place to place. Unfortunately, it landed too close to the flame and its wings were singed. It began writhing on the wood and fell to the ground tumbling around and disappeared into the grass. Not too long after that a beautiful butterfly was drawn to the flame but pulled up at the last moment and allowed the smoke to lift it up and out of danger.

I thought about the two creatures and the impact the fire had on each. One was scarred and the other soared. I reflected on people I know and how the dangers and difficulties of life also damaged some beyond healing and others used their pain to reach heights not previously known.

I wish I knew the secret; how to be the one who takes flight not the one who flies no more. I know which one I want to be, the life I want to live and for my wings to help others soar.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Anger

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Anger

One of the first questions I have, when teaching a new class or working with a father, is “Tell me how you express your feelings. Can you show you are angry, disappointed, frustrated in a healthy way or does it all come out as toxic anger?” Toxic anger is dangerous and greatly inhibits a child’s growth, impedes communication with others, and can lead to abuse and neglect. Understanding how a father deals with his feelings is key to understanding his relationship with his family, friends, and community.

One of the most common responses on how men deal with the feeling of anger is; “I want to hurt someone else. I want another to feel pain. I don’t want to be alone in my suffering.” This can surface in many ways, a bruising hand, a mouth filled with hurtful and caustic words. Other men leave and don’t come back, others come back but never talk about the emotion that erupted like a volcano. A lot of men simply get mad and stop talking, letting their silence oppress everyone who is near them.

Most men have never learned to deal, and healthfully express, their feelings. This is why for most men anger is their default emotion. The saddest part is they pass these traits along to children and the unhealthy cycle starts all over again.

An old Zen proverb says; “To hold on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging  (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Resistance

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Resistance

Earlier this afternoon, between rain showers, I took some trash to the dump and stopped to get some gas for the lawnmower. Afterward, heading home and stopped at a traffic light, my eye caught a large raindrop in the center of my truck window. My first response was to turn on the wipers but instead, I watched it slowly slip down my windshield. The light turned green and as I began moving the wind flow pushed the large raindrop back up the glass.

The faster I went, the more resistance, the further up it went. However, when the speed was too great the raindrop split into three, one not quite as large and two smaller ones. The two smaller one rolled up the window and disappeared. Another red traffic light requiring me to stop and the raindrop began to slide down again. Green means go and I did my best to keep my speed around 40MPH because this seemed to keep the droplet in the middle of the glass. I did notice that even though it was staying put it was still getting smaller. The wind resistance was wearing away the raindrop and eventually, it vanished.

The rest of the way home I thought about the raindrop and life. We too are worn down by resistance. Time, difficulties, tragedies, and simple everyday living. If we live too fast we fall apart, not enough and it’s a quick descent to oblivion. Finding the right pace, knowing where our balance is, taking care of this fragile gift called life takes mindfulness and patience. Even when we get these things right it doesn’t mean we live forever for resistance, wearing down, out and thin is part of existence.

One life is all we get but if we do it well one is all we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Bird in a Peach Tree

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Bird in a Peach Tree

Tuesday night Beth and I were watering our trees and plants when she noticed a small bird near the bottom of the back fence. It was young and finding its wings so it didn’t move when she was near it. Last night she told me to be on the lookout for it as I watered in the area where she first saw it. I looked carefully but didn’t see it and proceeded to water with abandon.

When I water the trees and plants I like to start at the top, with the leaves, giving them a good soaking and make my way down the trunk/base. The next to be watered was a Peach tree that’s grown a lot since we planted it a couple of years ago. I aimed at the top of the tree and began spraying it when all of a sudden, feathers fluttered and the little bird flew out of the Peach tree and with every pump of its wings went higher and higher, finally settling on a branch in a giant Birch tree.

Thankful it didn’t hurt itself I reflected on the truth that it was the scare that caused it to fly, perhaps further than it ever has flown before. In 24 hours, with nothing to urge it to go further it had moved from the fence to the Peach tree, about 20 feet. Following the fright, it flew hundreds of yards and into of the tallest trees in the yard.

Life has its uncertainties, dangers, difficulties, pain, and heartbreak. These are usually not welcome but they could be the very catalyst that allows us to climb to our highest heights and find our wings to soar.

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

Borders

“If, as adults, we are only preoccupied by the security of our borders we have not matured as human beings capable of real freedom, of seeing the happiness of being citizens in the world of virtue – goodness, kindness, humanity, compassion. In this world of grace there are no borders.”
#LaurenceFreeman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Freeman)

Borders

Above is a portion of my morning reading this Lenten season devotional of 2017. It speaks to one of the most difficult battles we fight as people, a nation, and a community of faith.

It’s easy to separate ourselves from the world. To erect borders, laws, litmus tests, even vote for silly ideas such as a border wall which also includes 800+ miles of the Rio Grande river. We pull away from strangers and those different from us because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of losing things, being infected by things, having our normal lives disrupted and changed forever.

The last couple of months I’ve been on a Jars of Clay binge. In the house, on the lawn mower, in the truck, it’s all I’ve been listening to. Moving from one album to another, no particular order. This week it’s been; “The Long Fall Back to Earth. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Fall_Back_to_Earth)” The album is a unique one for the group as they experiment with a break from their usual sound. There is a song entitled on the album; “Headphones” that speaks to the temptation to stay in our own world as the rest of the world goes to hell. Its poignant and has resonated in my spirit the last few days.

I awoke this Palm Sunday to the news that cowardly suicide bombers had killed at least 50 people in two different attacks as they worshiped this last Sunday before Easter. My heart hurt for my brothers and sisters. There are no borders when it comes to pain, empathy, hope and help.

In the world of grace there are no borders.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Mind Your Feet

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Minding Your Feet

Earlier today I stopped to get gas. I got out of the truck, inserted my bank card into the machine slot, chose my fuel type and began to pump. As I stood there I thought I might as well put my wallet back in my bag and began stepping over the hose which was connected to my truck and the pump. As I tried this, which I’ve done dozens if not hundreds of times, somehow one foot or both feet got caught on the hose and down I went. WHACK! right onto the cement. It happened so fast I don’t remember much but I must’ve screamed when I started to fall because a kind gentleman stopped to see if I was ok. I assured him I was although I wasn’t actually sure. My arm was hurting but my pride was hurting more at that particular moment. I finished getting gas, gingerly climbed back in the truck and have been nursing my right arm, which took the brunt of the fall, ever since.

It was a painful reminder not to get ahead of ourselves as we walk the road of life. When I went to put my stuff in the cab I just assumed I had cleared the hose instead of looking to make sure. Minding our feet is imperative if we want to stay upright, keep going and make it home.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Using Your Head

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Using Your Head

It’s 70 degrees today! Almost January and balmy. Beth and I decided to take advantage of the day by working outside. Perfect weather with a little sun, a few clouds and a nice breeze. Everything was going smoothly until walking off the side of the porch I misjudged the sloped roof and whacked my head on a beam. “OUCH!” After rubbing the area which was throbbing and walking around a bit I decided to nail up a piece of material to mark where the beam was so I wouldn’t repeat the experience.

Wisdom teaches us that sometimes we are going to make mistakes, poor judgments, take a step in the wrong direction, not use our heads for what they were made for; thinking and making wise decisions. However, this isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a time for evaluation, choosing a different course, using the experience as a lesson learned and, hopefully, not repeated.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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