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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Laughter

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Laughter

Late last night a friend of my wife and me texted concerning a “rat” that was in her kitchen! I called her and asked if it was dead, moving and how big? She confessed it wasn’t a rat but a mouse and it was moving quicker than she or it would be a dead rodent! I inquired if she had traps or poison and learned all she possessed was a broom. “What are you going to do with a broom?” I asked bemusedly.  “I don’t know. Maybe I can kill it.” I began to laugh at the thought of my friend chasing down a small, fast, furry, creature and then she began to laugh as well. I informed her that the chances were slim she would rid herself of the mouse with a broom and she could either go get traps and poison now or tomorrow. She was already dressed for bed so she decided to wait until today.

My friend’s had a rough go of it the past several months and a mouse was one more problem she didn’t need. I understood but I also told her at least it was a distraction for a couple of moments and we did have a good laugh at the thought of her playing hockey with a broom and the rodent.

Laughter, funny moments and experiences, can be a blessing. Even in a time of turmoil and terror, a good laugh can chase the fear and uncertainty away for a little while. I hope my friend finds more moments of light-heartedness as she walks a trail that no one desires.

Treasure laughter. A good medicine. A great reminder that even in the darkest of times we can find humor, hope, and the strength to go on.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Bright

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Brightly

The sun was shining brightly today as if it had been hidden by clouds and couldn’t take it anymore. Bursting through, nothing holding it back, it lit up the blue sky. Now, after showing off, the sun is setting and only remnants of light remain of its beauty.

I have a friend going through a difficult time, battling a disease that will sooner or later kill him. He’s doing everything he can but our bodies are not made to last forever nor beat every enemy we face. I talked with him today on the phone and his voice sounded stronger than in days past. It was good to hear and I laughed as he told me one of his jokes. The last several weeks have been tough, watching him struggle, rise to meet one challenge only to be met by a new and a more difficult obstacle. No one can keep going no matter how much strength they possess.

Today for a moment he shone brightly and I will keep that memory with me as he moves forward.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

the Other

the Other

Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.

Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.

It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Servant – Soldier

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Servant or Soldier

In worship this morning the phrase servant not soldier was used when describing those who follow the Master, Jesus. These words have stuck with me all day. Too often I hear colloquialisms; “fighting the good fight or fight for your personal rights, soldiers for in God’s army, fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves, fighting for your political party, fighting for (sometimes with) your family, fighting sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, fighting for equality. The list could go on but I noticed there aren’t too many servant phraseologies we use.

I think we are more comfortable with the idea of fighting, exerting power, pushing back against something we feel is invading our worlds. Fighting comes from a place of strength. Being a servant make us more uneasy. We don’t like the possibility of being taken advantage, of someone being over us, of putting down our fists instead of raising them. We live in a time where standing up for what we believe in seems the correct and just path. I wonder where/if there is a balance between soldiering and serving? Is there a side which needs choosing, we should choose?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Heart Hunger

Heart Hunger

This afternoon I attended a meeting where a speaker talked about babies born being addicted to drugs. The mothers of these soon to be born children were addicts of both prescribed and unprescribed drugs and when the baby emerged from the womb it too craved the narcotics.

It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of some of the moms. 85% were on welfare, didn’t have much in the way of education, lived in poverty and were receiving the help of many community and national organizations. What was even sadder was the moms knew their addictions were harming their unborn child and yet couldn’t break the cycle. The addiction had overtaken the heart of the mother and superseded their instincts to care for their soon to be born child. The hunger for being a good mom was less than the appetite for the drugs.

Our hearts, the souls, and spirits of us are powerful. They can give us the strength to overcome the greatest of challenges and reach heights unthinkable or take us to the depths of hell and nightmares unimaginable. Wisdom teaches us to choose today who we will be tomorrow. Choose carefully because our decisions mean life or suffering and death.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Free

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Free

On Monday I wrote about installing a light for a friend on a high wall of a building (Highs & Unknowns) (https://thewannabesaint.com/2017/06/25/highs-and-unknowns/).  It was hot on that ladder and my hands and arms were dripping sweat as a vent from the building blew out hot air making it even more stifling.

I’m not a big fan of heights but I made the decision to go up and not look down. I had a hand towel to dry off my hands, arms, and forehead and used it to get a better grip on the light and keep the sweat out of my eyes….all for a friend unable to make the climb.

When we take on a burden from a friend, when we set out to help someone, we do it, hopefully, out of love, kindness, and concern. The challenge becomes when, if, the burden become greater than we realized. The decision must be made repeatedly to continue to carry on, not give up, look for the extra strength needed, to not give up or give in until the burden can be laid down and both are free.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Powerless

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Powerless –

One of the hardest things to do in life is to admit we are powerless. It’s not in our DNA. We are overcomers. We make a way where there isn’t a way. We will not be conquered, helpless, ineffectual, useless, defenseless, defeated.

However, there are times when we have no choice. In spite of our defiance and indomitable spirit, we must admit we cannot win, change or alter a situation.

Wisdom tells us that submission can at times be our greatest strength. It is when we are still, not struggling, we find our way to peace and contentment. There is a difference between being physically or emotionally powerless and having the ability to know the fight isn’t ours to win.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabsaint.com

Changing Course

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Changing Course –

Changing course is never easy. I was speaking with some men today and we were talking about our ability to make course corrections, live life in transition, embrace the transient nature of reality.

Even though I lecture on the changes that life is made up of, I am one who is not comfortable with transitions. Some people are; “go with the flow” kind of folks. I am a dam up the stream, stop and enjoy the view type of person! However, I also know that water becomes stagnant, contaminated, stale and useless.

Life isn’t made to be still which is why the stillness we seek needs to be deeper than what seems real on the surface. It is in the depths of our souls where peace and strength are found to handle and perhaps even enjoy the quick pace and fast changes life brings our way.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Head On

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Head On

On Friday, my chores included riding the lawn tractor around the property picking up limbs, leaves, trash and other debris. I was finishing up just as it was getting dark. There were a couple of pieces of trash on the corner end of our yard which is next to the road. I stopped, picked them up, threw them in the trailer attached to the mower, checked both ways and drove the lawn tractor up and on the road. I had the headlights on and as soon as I made it on the road a semi-truck turned and began driving toward me. I was a spot where I couldn’t stop or pull back in the yard because of a steep grade and tried to figure out how far I had to go before me and the large truck would be at an impasse. I was going as fast as I dared and the semi didn’t seem to be slowing down. With my limited headlights on, while being blinded by the brightness of his, I searched for a location to pull back into the yard. Looking, longing, becoming anxious at the thought of being flattened by the truck I found a safe place to get off the road and avoid anymore; “playing chicken with motor vehicle” scenarios.

After breathing a sigh of relief I reflected on my; “Fast and Furious” moment. There are times, on the road of life, where there is little light by which to see. We are blinded by what’s coming our way and helpless to stop it. We do everything we can to find a safe place but disaster, danger, difficulties are looming and we don’t know if we’ll make it. Sometimes, at the last moment, we discover a safe spot a place out of danger. Other times we keep going, hoping, praying, there’s more strength, power, and courage in us than we’d ever imagine.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

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“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 16

How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

This morning was my regularly scheduled session with my therapist. I wanted to leave early because traffic approaching Nashville can be hazardous and slow. I arose with the alarm and went into the living room to do my morning prayers. Following, the above verse from the book of Proverbs was stuck in my head.

I pulled out of the driveway and began the trip. Everything was going fine until my cell phone rang and it was Beth, who was on her way to work, and while listening to the radio heard there was not one but two vehicle accidents on the interstate which I was traveling. “Sigh!” Brake lights soon lit up the road in front of me and I couldn’t help but be amused at how quickly my plans fell apart. “Oh, how little control we have over anything.” I finally made it to the doctor’s office and the waiting room was already full.

I found my seat and occupied myself with my phone and the TV which was on. Minute after minute passed by and it wasn’t too long before my appointment time came, went, and still I sat in the waiting room. My plans for the morning were vanishing before my eyes and I wondered what the Lord’s answer to me would be? Perhaps, “Brian, just breathe and let go of your irritation. I know where you are and I am there with you.

Planning and scheduling my days are part of how I deal with my Severe Anxiety Disorder. It helps me break my schedule into smaller, more manageable parts. It seems innocent, “pure” as the verse from Proverbs would say, but I also recognize that the control I seek isn’t really possible and handing control over my daily existence to the One who is eternal is the only way to true peace of mind.

When my anxiety and/or depression begin to permeate my spirit it seems to get heavier and heavier until it’s an effort to do any and everything. However, when God, who knows my spirit is being weighed down by mental illness, plans, worries and a host of other things, sees me burdened he picks me up and breathes his lightness into my spirit so I can rise up and keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Support

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Support –

This morning I had to pull up a part of the porch we’ve been working on. The problem was that a particular spot was weak.  If you didn’t step in the particular place one would never notice the “give” but when you hit it just right there was no missing the lack of stability. I unscrewed the section of flooring and discovered there wasn’t cross beam to aid the support of this portion. So, I added a couple of two by fours, dropped the wood floor back in place, added a few extra screws and; “viola!” no more weak spot.

Reflecting on the weak spot I thought about the areas of weaknesses in our own lives. Sometimes the vulnerable places are well-known to us and those who care for us. These are hurts, habits, and hangups, which are easily visible and not difficult to find. Then there are those hidden areas that unless the precise place is touched, a name is mentioned, temptation beckons, fragility exposed, we give, perhaps even believe in, an image of strength and control.

Knowing and adding support for our vulnerable areas takes first a willingness to see the soft spots and allow others to view them as well. Then, in humbleness, we seek guidance in how best to make strong areas which are weak. Many times our frailties are revealed to us by others. Though we may be uncomfortable with others knowing our flaws, defects and shortcomings, many times it is the keen eye, and strong support of a friend, that helps put us on the road to true inner wisdom and strength.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Asking

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Asking

I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.

I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.

Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.

Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.

Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.

Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Grudges

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Grudges

Man Repeatedly Vandalizes Childhood Friend’s Tombstone over 56-year-Old Grudge

…“The suspect claims that 56 years ago when the deceased was 10 and this subject was 12, he claims that the [deceased] stole money from him and 56 years later he was getting back at him,” Lieutenant Christopher Ward told NBC 10. “So for 56 years he lived with this grudge. He only realized that he had passed away within the last two years.” It was later revealed that the two had actually been childhood friends, until Donovan accused the deceased of stealing $300 from a wooden box in his room. I guess he never got over it…See rest of story here:  (http://www.odditycentral.com/news/man-repeatedly-vandalizes-childhood-friends-tombstone-over-56-year-old-grudge.html)

Grudges can be powerful things. The man in the story had been carrying around this weight for over half a century! His grudge, like most, come when we feel we’ve been falsely accused, taken advantage of, endure consequences of decisions we haven’t made, suffering because of the selfishness of others.

Grudges are heavy weights to carry. I once witnessed someone speaking on the weights we carry around in our lives. He asked for a volunteer to stand up and to begin walking around the auditorium. After each lap, when he passed the starting point, the speaker would give him something heavy and burdensome to carry. After 4 or 5 laps the volunteer was struggling to walk and couldn’t go any further following a few more.

We all have weights we carry in life. Some of us have illnesses to care for, relationships to heal or keep whole, responsibilities we can’t ignore and a myriad of other burdens we must shoulder for a limited or longer amount of time.

However, there are also other weights we choose to carry such as grudges, judgmental attitudes, bitterness, other bad, hard or ill feelings. Making the choice to let go of this extraneous baggage gives us more strength and freedom to travel the path of life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Need Help

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Need Help

When Beth and I made an offer on our little farm-house one of the provisos we placed in the contract was that an old, red, riding lawn mower be included in the purchase. Since the previous owner was going to be living in a camper in Florida he had no problem with this stipulation. I used it all last summer but during the fall problems began to plague the mower and late last year it died. It was going to cost almost as much to fix it as buying a new one. I had a relatively new push mower and when spring arrived I decided to use it to mow the grass. It wasn’t easy. We have almost 2 acres and the back yard has a good slope to it.

I would split the chore into two days. The front part of the yard took over 2 hours and the back, with the incline, was closer to 3. For almost two months I used the push mower but as temps began to climb and the humidity level rose I noticed by the end of the second day I was so tired I couldn’t do anything else. I was whooped, spent, done. It took almost everything I had to do this one thing. I could do it but nothing else. Finally, the Mrs. and I decided to buy a new lawn tractor. A couple of weeks ago I used it for the first time and it was a relief to have help, to not rely solely on my strength to do a relatively simple chore. I could now mow everything in one afternoon, do the weed eating with strength left over to work on other projects.

Last weekend, while using the new lawn mower, I reflected on my journey with severe depression and anxiety (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/04/27/my-depression-and-anxiety-story/). I thought about the struggle to make it on my own, not ask for help. Trying to carry the burden of depression and anxiety took everything I had just to get through each day and the truth is that I was losing the battle. As hard as it was to admit I needed help. Finally going to see a specialist, talking about what these diseases were doing to me, agreeing to take meds, wasn’t easy, still isn’t, but it’s what needed to be done.

Understanding we can’t do it alone, asking for help, depending upon and trusting others to walk beside us, maybe carry us until we can walk again doesn’t make us weak but instead allows us to be strong again.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Power

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A yellow monster of a truck quickly lurched up behind me this morning. I was loaded down with wood, crawling along, when the driver of this behemoth decided I wasn’t going fast enough for him. He revved his loud engine and would slow down, wait a few moments, and then catch back up to me. Because of the small two lane highway we were traveling, there wasn’t anything either of us could do to rectify the situation. The obvious power of his truck aside we were both stuck, powerless. Finally, the road opened up, a passing lane appeared and he roared past me.

I smiled as he disappeared from view. It was a good reminder that each of us,  no matter the strength and power we think we possess, are always at the mercy of the things life brings our way we can’t change or control.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Better Than

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Wednesday night I went to bed without any ice cream! This may seem like an odd confession but I like ice cream, maybe too much.  Each evening, before going to bed, I almost always have a scoop or two. Wednesday, however, I was so tired! The day was a long day, a good day, but an exhausting one. When I I finally made it home a little before eight o’clock I was done. I scarfed down dinner and fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up it was past ten and too late for ice cream. I mumbled; “good night” to Beth and went straight to bed. Thursday evening we talked about my ice cream-less evening and decided sleep definitely was more important.

Wisdom teaches us to choose what’s best for us. Life is filled with wondrous blessings and bountiful gifts. There are times when we can partake of many and other seasons when we must choose the best and trust the good will be available at another time.

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

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Scabs & Scars

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A few weeks ago, while working on an outside project, I stepped on a board that didn’t support my weight. My leg went through the wood and left several deep cuts. “Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark!” Beth cleaned and bandaged it and for several following days repeated the treatment and it began to heal.

Last week a long scab had formed on one of the wounds and it began itching. I could tell by looking at the cut it was much better and over the weekend I began to pick at the scab. There’s something about a scab that begs to be messed with and by Monday I had carefully removed it. However, though the scab was gone the remnants of the wound remained. There’s little doubt I will have a long scar on my leg reminding me of the incident.

Life is this way sometimes. By a tragedy or choice, accident or purposefully inflicted we are wounded. Maybe it was our decision or someone else’s but we are hurt deeply. We do our best to take care of the wound. We pray, talk to others, seek counseling and slowly begin to heal.

After a while we notice our hurt and pain, though we still bear the marks, has greatly subsided. Recovery takes us to a place of “new normal” and our scabs eventually become scars.

The troubles and difficulties of our past don’t disappear. They influence who and what we are and will become. The question is; “will our scars bring renewed shame and continued suffering or be signs of our strength and resilience?”

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

The Last Place I Looked

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Earlier today my wallet disappeared. I had stopped at a restaurant this morning to study for my fathers with addictions group. I took in a jacket, notebook and workbook. After ordering and paying I put my keys and wallet into my jacket pocket so I wouldn’t leave it behind.

When it was time to go I picked up both books, jacket and headed to the truck. I pulled my keys from the jacket pocket unlocked the door, placed the other items inside, reached back into the jacket but my wallet was nowhere to be found. I checked every pocket, in the seats, on the pavement, retraced my steps back into the restaurant, outside again, rechecked pockets, under the truck, floor boards, under the workbook, notebook, between the seats but no luck and no wallet. “Things don’t just disappear!” I said, reinforcing the hope I wasn’t losing what’s left of my mind. “It’s got to be here somewhere!”

As I stood there staring and pondering where it could be, what could’ve happened to it, the brown leather corner of my wallet caught my eye. Somehow, someway, it had come out of my jacket pocket and lodged itself in a hinge of my truck door (see photo above). Breathing a sigh of relief I plucked it from its hiding place, shook my head and was thankful for something valuable found in an unlikely place.

Life has a way of reminding us that it’s unpredictable and mysterious. Whether lost wallets, unexpected blessings, unwanted challenges or finding comfort and contentment in the last place expected we must keep our eyes and spirits open.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Speaking Truth to Power

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This afternoon I watched an interesting documentary on Anita Hill. It included bits and pieces of her life but mostly focused on the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, her accusation that she was sexually harassed by him and the fall out from the decision.

I hadn’t thought about Anita Hill in twenty plus years. I remember watching the hearings in college and not really understanding what was going on. As I watched the news footage I was struck by the image of this small black woman being interrogated by a group of middle aged white men. I admired the fortitude it took for her to sit in front of them and millions of Americans for nine hours answering embarrassing, intimate, shameful, humiliating questions. Her life was placed under the harsh spotlight of the press, the United States judicial system, tabloids, political pundits and private investigators. She endured this pressure and scrutiny because she dared to speak her truth to power, to confront an injustice, to not back down in the face of enormous odds.

Speaking truth to power isn’t easy. Facing persecution because of a belief takes an assurance that the pain is worth enduring and the cause is worth the hurt. In our lives we may never be called to capital hill, involved in a national controversy, have our life dissected by TV news anchors and radio hosts but we may one day need to choose either to stand by what we say we believe, speak truth to those who don’t want to hear it, to risk it all…or not.

The question of course is; “will we?”

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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