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Into the Fire

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Into the Fire

I heard a story yesterday about a Roman soldier who fell in love with a young, Christian, woman at the height of Rome’s imperial glory. He wanted to marry her but she would not allow him to court her because he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Desperate, the young man began to follow her and eventually discovered where she met other Christians in a secret place outside of Rome. He stayed in the shadows, watched and listened as they sat around a small fire and shared their stories of being followers of Jesus. As he stood there his heart was awakened and a voice echoed inside of him; “You will never know the truth until you step into the light of the fire and have all that is not burned to ash.” This was a great challenge indeed for most Romans believed in many gods, not just one, and followers of Christ were persecuted, and executed for their beliefs. He would have to give up everything for the chance at eternal and temporal love.

As I’ve reflected on this story the last two days I’ve wondered about the power and sacrifice of love. Love is a double-edged sword. It is wonderful and terrifying. Many horrible acts have been done in the name of love. It gives the bearer great courage but can also make one a coward. Those who have loved deeply speak of the joy and sorrow, wholeness and heartbreak, feeling of ecstasy and indescribable pain. True love requires all of us. We can’t give only a portion. We must be all in or never experience the life-changing, mind-bending, chaos that is love. It gives and takes, makes and destroys, assures us and shakes us to our core. There is nothing else that can compare.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Empathy

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Empathy

My wife is a wonderful woman, and brave. Brave because she went to Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon! There are many reasons she’s wonderful but her concern and empathy for people and other things overwhelms me sometimes. Today, on her way to what we infamously call; “Wally World” a chipmunk jumped on the road and tried to run across when Beth was at the same spot with her car. “Thump, thump,” was all she heard but it was enough. She called me a few minutes after leaving the house and I knew something had happened. “Hello?” I answered. “Hey. I ran over a chipmunk,” she replied on the verge of tears. “It came out of nowhere and I tried to stop but couldn’t and that’s when I heard the ‘Thump!‘” I listened to her and told her I was sorry. “I know you would never do that if you could avoid it.” She knew this also and after a while she was okay. I asked her to be safe and remember that I love her. We hung up and the rest of the day has been without incident but the confession over her accidentally taking the life of a rodent is one of the many reasons my life is better because she’s in it.

While she was gone, after the phone call, I reflected on her having a heart big enough that a chipmunk she didn’t know existed a moment before the incident could have an impact on her. I wondered what our families, communities, nation, and the world would be like if each of us had the respect, concern, and empathy for all things, especially each other. I think we’d all live and be in a happier, safer, place.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Graduation

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Graduation

I’ve spent the last few weeks staring at graduation photos of young women and men whom I’ve had the privilege in some way to be a part of their lives. They are graduating from college, earning their masters and doctorates. I am blown away! I have known these “kids” for most of their time on this planet and to watch them succeed and exceed my wildest dreams is a testament to the wonderful people they are and to parents, mentors, teachers, and guides as they’ve walked the road of life.

I often hear only negatives about this new generation. They’re weak, spoiled, “snowflakes” and I don’t see it. The ones I know would rather lead with their hearts than with their mouths (a problem I notice in the 40 years and older crowd a lot!) They don’t believe because you say so. They want to see it lived before they make up their minds. They are incredibly smart and committed. They know how to spot a fake and people “going through the motions.” This is why church attendance for this group is dwindling but are still spiritually seeking. They aren’t afraid to challenge the norm, call a bluff, or stand up and resist the many wrongs in our world.

Is this group perfect? No. Can they turn around a dying planet consumed by greed and consumption? Maybe. What can we older ones do? We can support them or at least get out of the way and let them try.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Hope for the Future

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Hope for the Future

There’s nothing like opening a box full of stuff to get people’s attention. This morning I was at the office early because I had several boxes of children’s books to sort and inventory. We are having reading events for dads and their kids in the next few months and the books for these came in last week. They were colorful with big bold letters and wonderful pictures of dinosaurs, bears, monsters, children with their parents, llamas, and fantastical creatures.

As we inventoried these books I couldn’t help but think back to my childhood and books I read or had read to me. Reading is essential for any child’s long-term success. If you can read you can do almost anything you put your mind to. These books could spark a love of learning in a child’s heart that will benefit them and humanity and that’s awesome.

I also sighed as I thought of many people today who squander the gift of reading and learning, using it to reinforce and fortify their opinions, position on social and religious issues, instead of allowing the written word to open them up to new ideas, the discovery of concepts, notions, theories, and truths never conceived.

Here’s hoping our children are better learning pioneers than those who’ve come before.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Lost in the Moment

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Lost in the Moment

This morning, before worship service began at church, a girl a few pews ahead of us was playing with a squishy ball. Even after the singing started she sat in her seat throwing the ball up in the air and then catching it. Wasn’t long before the inevitable was going to happen, it went flying to the pew and the people behind her. She retrieved her toy and began again. Eventually, her mother noticed and stopped her but for a moment it was just her and the ball. She was focused on that ball and what was next, what might happen, didn’t exist.

Later in the service, another girl was getting fidgety. The preacher was speaking too long and she was ready to go. So she began to mess with the window blinds, play with and drop things on the floor. Making her way around grandma’s legs she was in the aisle and had found a place on the floor that squeaked and clanked when she stomped on it. A boy sitting beside his mother took notice of the girl and slipped from his mom’s grasp to begin stomping on the floor as well. Two more, lost in the moment.

Consequences and outcomes are important. Not thinking ahead can cause great difficulty and trouble. However, there are other times when being lost in the moment, for a moment, can be a wonderful thing.

blessings
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

What’s Inside

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What’s Inside

This afternoon I burned old collected limbs which had fallen this past winter. Along with twigs and branches, there was a stack of large limbs that I cut up last year when part of a big tree was torn down by a thunderstorm. They had finally dried out enough where they would burn quickly. It didn’t take long to have a large fire burning brightly and hot! After a while, there wasn’t much left of the burn pile but red, orange, and blue scorching ashes. Before heading to the house I took a water bottle that was almost half filled with water and laid it on the hot embers. I watched as it shrunk, popped the top off and melted the places of the bottle where there wasn’t any water. However, where there was water the plastic didn’t melt. I watched as the water inside began to boil but the plastic wasn’t consumed. Because of the water inside the plastic didn’t melt outside. It was awesome to watch and wait to see how long it lasted. Finally, of course, the water evaporated and the plastic shriveled by the flames but it took longer than it should have given the power of the heat and flame.

It was a wonderful reminder that what’s inside; our spirit, emotions, mentality, don’t just protect what can’t be seen but also protects the outside, what we can see; our health, bodies, and relationships.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sunshine

Sunshine

Yesterday evening Beth and I went out to eat. I was coming from home and she was coming from work. I arrived first and registered our name with the hostess. The inside lobby was packed and so I went and sat in the lobby located next to the front doors. I sat down, whipped out my phone and found a news article to read. Across from me was a precocious young girl saying; “Hi” to everyone who came in. She wobbled over to the bench I was on and said; “Hi” to me. I looked away from my phone and returned her salutation. She was playfully climbing on the bench and I went back to reading. After a few moments, she was sitting next to me and I reflected on my behavior. This wonderful little child, a social butterfly in the making, was sitting next to me and I was focused on my phone, not on her. I turned the phone off and put it in my pocket. “How are you today?” I asked. “Fine, she replied, how are you today?” “Good. Is that the sun on your shirt?” “Yes.” “Did you have a good day?” I inquired. “Yes. Did you have a good day?” she responded. We went back and forth until they called the name she was registered under and we said our “goodbyes.”

I am thankful for the awareness in that moment to put away all distractions and bask in an actual ray of sun shining in my life.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sound of Silence

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Sound of Silence

For the last few days, the sounds of rain has been bouncing off the tin roof which covers our porch. I love the sound but hour after hour, day after day, and you’re ready for a break. Finally, today around noon, the rain stopped. I sat in my living room and listened to the limbs shed their build-up of water and after a while, there was only silence. I wonder if this was how Noah felt being the Ark, listening to the pounding of the rain and the waves and when it stopped did he pause and enjoy the sound of nothing falling on his big boat?

There’s been flooding in our area, yards are swamped, the drainage ditches are overflowing. Even though rain is a wonderful act of creation you can only handle so much of a good thing. Reflecting on the silence I also thought about what we desire in our lives. Most of us do not desire the “bad” with the “good”.  In our imaginations, if we had all the power, we wouldn’t face the difficulties, the challenges, the mountains we climb on our journey from the cradle to the grave. Everything would be smooth with no setbacks or failures. If life was this way would we get sick of the “good”? Would we grow? What kind of person would we be?

There’s no way to honestly answer these questions but I do wonder if life would be worth living if we got all the things we think make life worth living for.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Sharp

Sharp

Today is a wonderful, relaxing, rainy Saturday. A day where the tin roof on the porch sings; “Rest, take it easy, don’t worry about what can’t be done. Just be.” It’s the kind of day we all need more than “once in a while.”  We’ve lost the art of powering down, putting off things until tomorrow, sitting and letting go of schedules, to-do lists, and allowing our spirits, minds, emotions, and bodies to heal, recover from the hurry, harried pace of our lives.

Staying constantly sharpened can wear out the blade.” Wisdom teaches us to wait, enjoy the serenity, like a leaf in a slow-moving part of the stream. Sooner or later the pace picks up and life starts to quicken but for now, in this moment, simply soak in the stillness.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

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Grounded, Simple, Generous, Controlled, Joyful, Present

The contemplative life isn’t hard to understand. Most of the teachings can be learned in a day but they offer a lifetime of wisdom.

A few moments ago I was sitting on the porch basking in the sun. It was wonderful. I had brought my phone with me but not sure why. I laid it down beside me and closed my eyes. It’s warm for the month of January. Yesterday it was cloudy and cool but in that present moment of sitting on the porch, the skies were a brilliant blue. Our Siberian Husky was sprawled out on the driveway, not a care in the world. As I embraced the beauty and warmth my attention kept going to the phone. I knew there wasn’t anything on it I needed to read or respond to but the fact it was there distracted me.

This is why simplicity is important in the contemplative life. Everything we own, invest our ourselves in, give our passion, energy and time takes a piece of us. The more we have in our lives the less contemplative we are able to be. Letting go of all that is superfluous allows us to focus on what’s important while the fluff floats away.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Non-Action

Non-Action

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

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

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

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

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Warmth

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Warmth

I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.

There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.

In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.

Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.

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

Comparisons

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Comparisons

Someone told me today about a friend they have who is unhappy. This is the opposite of her usual demeanor. By most accounts, she’s always been a go lucky, chipper, satisfied, joyful person. However, in the last several months who mood has changed and the sparkle in her eye has dulled considerably. The person sharing this with me said her friend’s unhappiness with life has increased along with her social media consumption. She’s said; “When I read my friends’ posts on Facebook, look at their pictures on Instagram, see their interactions with countless other folks on Twitter, my life seems rather dull, empty, lacking.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone relay this type of story to me. Social media can be a wonderful tool and a good way to share select moments of our lives with our friends and family but we must remember the words; SELECT MOMENTS. Those inspirational posts on Facebook often come from a book or web page of quotes. The beautiful pictures on Instagram don’t show the before and after of getting ready to take the photo and recovering from it. Twitter can be an okay place to exchange ideas but more often its people shouting their opinions at each other.

Comparisons can be dangerous, especially on social media.  Most of what we see on these platforms are illusions. They rarely give us a real glimpse of who a person is and what their life is truly like. We have to be careful comparing our life, which we know intimately, with another’s snapshots of theirs. Our life may seem bland, our thoughts benign, our family and friendships boring, but that’s okay. Most of the time, if we were to see what a Facebook friend’s life is like, or the reality behind a Twitter account, or the other moments when everyone isn’t smiling on Instagram we might decide our life is good and worthy of our thanks.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

It’s the Thought

It’s The Thought –

I sat with one of my regulars for a session yesterday. We made small talk at first asking each other about what’s happened in the last week between appointments. He told me about his weekend and I mentioned the rain and how this negatively impacted my work on the front porch extension. As I said this his eyes lit up and he said; “That reminds me!” and he put his hand in his pocket and brought out an object and slid it across the table.

He continued; “I know you don’t charge for these sessions  but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you helping me.” I looked down and it was a gift card for a local home improvement store. I smiled at his graciousness and then slid the card back to him and replied apologetically; “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this gift. We are a non-profit and can’t accept personal payment of any kind but I appreciate your generosity and the thought behind the gift means a great deal to me.”  Even as I think about his desire to tangibly say; “Thank you” it brings a big smile to my face.

I have no idea how much the gift card was for and it doesn’t matter. What matters is his appreciation for the times we’ve sat together and worked through some tough issues to help him become the best man he can be for himself and his family. The old adage; “It’s the thought behind the gift that counts” is true and was a wonderful gift that I will value for a long time.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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