Blog Archives

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

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Renewal

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Renewal

Last night I sat in front of a roaring fire outside at our fire-pit. I had cleaned up the yard over the last two days and had limbs and other stuff we no longer needed to burn. I watched as the flames consumed the items and then deposit them in the air as smoke and ash.

I thought about life and all that we hold dear is quickly used up and thrown away. Nothing in this world is permanent. Everything is transient. I reflected upon the life of my friend who is suffering in a hospital holding on to a life which isn’t intended to endure. However, he holds on as tight as he can because he loves his family and his friends. He and we don’t want to say; “Goodbye.” In his weakened condition, he still worries about others and how they will make it without him.

The fire burns down and I start to feel the cold of the evening. I’ve run out of fuel to feed the flames. They get lower, the embers glow less brightly and soon will go out. I get up and move inside. A place of warmth, safety, and comfort. I pray my friend, at the right time, will leave this cold world and find his eternal dwelling place as well.

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

Stop!

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Stop

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

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

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

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

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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

Expecting

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Expecting

It is so had to do, acting without expecting. Two plus two equals four but life is not mathematics. One action does not necessarily equal an expected result.

Several years ago I was on staff at a large organization and following a particularly long meeting I was among a group of members talking in a hallway. The conversation didn’t last long but I said something in passing that hurt the feelings of a fellow staff member. I didn’t realize it until that evening when I received a long email about what I had said and done. It took me by complete surprise. I sent an email back immediately apologizing and promising to be more careful with my words and received another email outlining other things I had done that this staff member found irritating and insulting. Again, I apologized and began looking at my words and behavior to see if I could find all of these faults. I didn’t agree with everything this staff member wrote but I felt they deserved enough respect from me to pray for greater self-awareness in all my interactions.

This is why expectations can be so dangerous. We may know, or hope we know, our intentions as we develop and cultivate relationships, make our way with others along this path called life. We may not wish to hurt others or offend them. Our life can be about peace and kindness but it may not always be perceived that way. We must purposefully live well but not expect our lives to be beyond questioning. When we make a mistake or someone is hurt by something we have done, even if we believed we acted innocently, we seek forgiveness and restoration so that our lives match the intent of our hearts.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Apocalypse

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Apocalypse

The last several days have been tense! Words of threats, warnings, retaliations, and war are being thrown back and forth between leaders of nations who are acting like petulant children. It worries me but angers me more. Both men seem to think it’s a game and forget the millions of lives which would be impacted, endangered, and ended if this fiasco goes further.

I wonder how leaders can become so distant from the people they represent? It isn’t just dictators and presidents but people in businesses, families, churches, and organizations in all shapes and sizes. The penetration of power into our spirits seem to corrupt whoever tries to yield it. It is why all wisdom leaders flee from power over people. They understand the grip and the destruction which can be wrought by good men turned and twisted by power and its propensity for evil.

I hope one of the two “leaders” will take a step back and take a deep breath. I pray they think of the people and not their egos. I want to see humility, not hubris. I’d like to be surprised by one of these men showing wisdom.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Be

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Be

When I was a student at Trevecca Nazarene University one of the classes I took was a spiritual formation class. On the first day, the teacher of the class lit a candle and told us it represented the presence of the Holy Spirit, alive, moving and not be captured or coerced. He lit the candle at every class. For some, it was probably hokey but for me, it was my first step into Contemplative Christianity which eventually led me to become a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).

Another discipline we would learn and one I still do to this day is praying Psalm 46:10; “Be Still and Know I am God.” We would sit quietly and begin by quoting the entire verse and then let a word(s) drop off after saying each phrase multiple times…

“Be Still and Know I am God
Be Still and Know I am
Be Still and Know
Be Still
Be”

When we arrived at; “Be” it was understood we found ourselves, our true selves, only in God. God wasn’t number one, he was the only one and everything else found its place in Him.

I follow this rhythmic prayer, often praying; “Be Still.” many times between rising in the morning and going to bed at night. It focuses, settles and comforts me or rather the words open my spirit and remind me I am because God allows me to be.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Pampered

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Pampered –

I feel embarrassed to admit I am sitting on the couch, pajama pants rolled up to the knees with my feet soaking in hot water, mixed with Epsom salt. I’m not sure why it’s hard to admit except it doesn’t seem very manly. Of course, that’s a sexist thing to write and it feels really good! Foot massages are for everyone.

The last couple of weeks my feet have been hurting. I’ve bought a pack of gel insoles and arch supports but still after a long day my feet hurt to walk on. The other day I asked Beth if we had a foot massage and she said perhaps but it’s packed up in a box in the shed. It was her idea to add the Epsom salt. So today, I bought a water, foot massage, a big bag of Epsom salt and here I sit.

This has been a long, busy, tough week. My thoughts are in different places with people who are facing difficult challenges in the weeks, months and perhaps years to come. If had a foot massage and some Epsom salt for each of them it would be awesome. However, I also know that even if their feet felt better they would still have to overcome some intimidating obstacles to regain their health and well-being.

I can’t take away the pain, the disease, the needs. I can, however, pray and trust that in some way those who are worried, uncertain and hurting tonight can find comfort and contentment in the midst of it all.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Choose Wisely

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Choose Wisely

Yesterday I needed to drive into town and sign some important documents. I wasn’t excited about dropping everything I was doing and running this errand but there was no other option. On the way, it seemed like every light was red, the road was occupied with the slowest of drivers, and I even had to pull over for a funeral procession.

By the time I arrived to sign the papers my patience was wearing thin. I walked in, told the woman behind the counter my name and what documents I needed to sign. She looked all around her with no luck. There were three two-drawer metal filing cabinets behind her. She pulled on one with no luck and began looking for the keys. “Sigh!” She found the key to one of the filing cabinet and said over her shoulder to me; “It has to be in one of these!” “Ugh!”

She opened the first one and no luck. She then looked for and found the key to the second one, opened it up and…no papers. Finding the third key she opened the last filing cabinet and; “Tada!” I signed the papers, told the woman thank you, and began to drive back home. I immediately became aware that my patience was thin and I needed to breathe out the tension and anxiety and breathe in stillness and peace.

  • As much as I like to consider myself a contemplative, patience isn’t my default emotional and mental place. Like the filing cabinets; I start with frustration, move to irritation with patience and letting go, seeming to be one of the last drawers I open.
  • I hope, pray, that one day instead of patience and peace being one of the final options they will be my first and only.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Look Out!

Look Out! –

He came out of nowhere! One minute I’m driving in the backwoods of South Central Tennessee, enjoying a picturesque perfect fall day, the next a squirrel ran right into my lane of traffic! I didn’t have time to swerve, slow down or react in anyway except to close my eyes, hold my breath, and hope for the best. Waiting for the inevitable; “Thump, Thump!” But it never came. Some how, some way, I missed him. “Whew!”

For the past few days my heart and spirit have been heavy. Something unexpected has ran onto my path and I couldn’t avoid it. It was a surprise that’s caused me to reflect, remember and realize there’s nothing I can do but close my eyes, breathe, pray and hope.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com 

Good and Bad

Good and Bad

Earlier this week a link to an old style entertainment wrestling video appeared in my Facebook feed. I recognized the wrestler and I admit succumbing to the temptation to click on the link. Watching it I was taken back to my childhood and enjoying these entertainment wrestling shows. My parents weren’t fans so my brother and I made sure they weren’t aware of what we were filling our brains with on the boom tube.

These wrestlers were incredible. They wore flashy clothes, had muscles everywhere, took a beating, kept on going and most of the time the good guy won the match. One of the reasons I liked wrestling as a kid was because you knew who the good and bad guys were by the way the dressed, talked, wrestled (good guys never cheated) and behaved in and outside of the ring. As a kid these were real life heroes and villains fighting for right and wrong, good and bad, justice and injustice every Saturday. Back then I didn’t know it was a lot more entertainment than wrestling. As I grew up I came to realize it was athletic acting, a male dominated, sports soap opera.

Someone asked me a few days ago who they should vote for in the upcoming presidential race. “Both candidates have tremendous flaws! As a Christian, how should we vote?” I shook my head and simply said; “I think you should pray.” “About who to vote for?” they asked. “No,’ I replied, ‘I’m not sure as a Christian you can, with a Holy conscience, vote for either one. But you can pray.”

The older I get the harder to tell who the good and bad people are anymore. Our world is so full of mixed signals, compromise and confusion. I don’t think its going to get any better. Prayer, humility, serenity of spirit is what it takes to survive and hope in times and seasons such as these.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Struggling on Father’s Day

Struggling on Father’s Day- 

My heart is heavy on this Father’s day. I have a great dad who has sacrificed much for me and did his best, always, to be a good role model, showing me how to be a good man. I am thankful for the love and support he gives me.

No, my heart is heavy because of a father I know who lost his son this past week. His son, who had just graduated high school, his whole life ahead of him, gone in an instant. My heart is heavy for those men killed in Orlando, Florida a week ago. A community where fathers’ criess of brokenness and loss still fill the air. My heart is heavy for friends and others I know whose fathers have died, leaving a hole no one else can fill. My heart is heavy for the men in my Incarcerated Dad’s classes who want to be good fathers. They want to love their kids but sometimes don’t know how. They long to see their children but mothers, partners and wives choose to keep them away because of the jail environment and choices these men have made. I’ve heard and seen tributes to fathers today in church, on Facebook walls, Sunday television shows and my spirit aches.

Wisdom teaches that our lives are as vapor. A wisp of wind and they are gone. Like summer grass that springs up in the morning but is withered in the heat of the day. I think of fathers gone too soon and children snatched from the clutches of those who loved them dearly and sigh. It may be Father’s Day but for some the day does not bring happiness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Fuel

Fuel

This morning, on my way to speak to a group of men with addictions, I stopped by a gas station. Pulling in, the pump I was hoping to use was occupied, so I chose another one and began filling up. I looked over at the vehicle parked beside the other gas pump and noticed the woman sitting in her car talking on the phone. She had finished getting her fuel but hadn’t pulled out of the way for the next person. As I continued filling up, she completed her call and then began reading either a book or a magazine. Finished, I hopped in the truck and began pulling away from the pump, glanced over my shoulder and there the driver still sat, reading and taking up a space someone else needed.

Driving away I thought about traveling the road of life. There are times we need recovery, renewal, restoration of our emotions and spirits to continue our journey. During these pit-stops I hope to encounter folks who are as interested in; “refilling my tank” as they are in theirs and pray that I’ll return the favor.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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To Grow or to Stay

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Last winter the Mrs. and I bought four Baby Blue Spruces and placed them in nice decorative pots. We thought they’d give the house a sense of the holiday seasons and they did. However, now that the spring season has arrived in full force our little Christmas trees aren’t so small and are quickly out growing their present place.  So, this morning, I planted them in the front yard. Now they have as much room to flourish as they need. The trees are beautiful and we’re a little nervous about their ability to adapt and grow in their new location but we realize they can’t stay in the safety of their decorative pots any longer.

As I dug the holes for each tree I thought about the wisdom teaching that there are seasons in our lives when our present location is perfect for growth and maturity. However, there will also come a time when we’ll need to make the choice to risk the comfort and safety of what we know, move into the unknown and hope for the chance to flourish and grow as never before.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The Light will Come Again

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Beginning today, daylight begins to grow. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Months ago we began to lose precious minutes, and eventually hours, of daylight but now the reverse happens. It’s like coming home from a long trip, the way back seems to be shorter than the journey away.

The short days mess with me, my mind, emotions and spirit. I miss the sunlight, the warmth. Rising for the day in the dark and coming home in the dark is depressing. However, just knowing there’ll be a little more light each day puts a spark in my soul.

Darkness never wins. No matter how long the night the dawn reminds us there’s always reason to hope.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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What We have in Common

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Earlier this week a neighbor invited my wife and I to, “friends day” at their small, rural church close to our home. We have a regular place of worship but, as former campus pastors, we also have a special place in our hearts for spiritual families of diminutive sizes whose leaders, usually of the older generation, are trying desperately to identify and anoint new, younger members, who’ll run with ball after they’re gone.

Small congregations have the difficult task of not losing sight of the past and finding a vision for the future. They don’t have the budgets, staff or volunteers to compete with the large (and want to be larger) churches. The entertainment, programs, and culturally defined approach to ministry doesn’t usually work for churches living Sunday to Sunday, offering to offering.

We entered into the brown paneled sanctuary with a ten by ten stage up front complete with podium and a bouquet of flowers. We were welcomed graciously, found our seat and soon the service began. We sang; “gasp!” out of hymnals. “It is Well with my Soul’ and ‘How Great Thou Art,” were some of the known ones with others I’ve never heard before sprinkled in. The pastor preached a short and to the point message, communion was given and received, a benediction song, prayer was said and that was the end.

Overall a nice service and a loving and welcoming people. I’d never been to a church of this denomination before but was struck with the thought; “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

I also reflected on the words; “friend‘ and ‘friendly.” I hope and pray every church who dares to open it’s doors will never forget that unless the known one and the stranger are loved equally we aren’t living our purpose or obeying our Master’s greatest command.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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