Success: One More Definition

“Success is achieving my full potential while fully surrendering to God”.     J.B. Wood

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When I came across this quote, I was taken back by its simplicity, and at the same time, its profoundness. Hence, I decided to share it. I realized that this quote relates to the first success quote I shared in my previous post. That definition by Whit Hobbs is about excitement, confidence and the joy of being enthralled with something you love to do, and do well. The first part of this definition concerning achieving one’s full potential corresponds well to what Whit described.

It is the second part of J.B.’s definition which makes me pause. I believe his statement is biblical, and is also necessary for God’s people to grow in their faith. But, the term ‘surrender’ doesn’t sit well with most of us. Don’t we equate surrendering with defeat, weakness, loss of power, and the removal of one’s personal rights and privileges? That form of surrender is anathema to our survival instinct and sense of well-being.

Of course, God quite often puts a different spin on many ideas and principles we are familiar with. When Jesus walked among us, he turned the culture upside down by making proclamations which were often difficult to comprehend or were in conflict with current thought and practices. As an example, he said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”. Taken at face value, most of us know intuitively-and by experience-that this imperative is impossible for man to achieve. Ultimately, he was implying that we should strive to be perfect by following his lead and seeking his help. Perfection comes later.

Hence, we come to the meaning of surrender as Wood used it. His intent is positive rather than negative. To surrender to God is to place one’s self directly under the power and influence of an entity far greater than mere man. God is nothing less than the Creator of the universe, as well as our personal friend if we chose to accept him as such. Anyone who can create an atom or cause an embryo to be formed in a womb must, by deduction, be able to govern all things far better than even the wisest of mankind could ever do. Where God is infinite in all things, man is finite. He is superior while we are inferior. Nevertheless, we struggle not only with this concept of surrender and putting it into practice, but also with the very concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

If we believe that achieving our full potential leads to a form of success, then we are on our way to something good. If we realize this potential while submitting and surrendering to God, we will achieve something even better than good…something  extraordinary. I have been trying to meld the two together most of my life, and still struggle with both parts of Wood’s statement. However, I am not without hope. I am not alone.

 

 

Expanding My View

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Ever wonder if you have viewed life through too narrow a lens? Ever felt like you missed something significant because you were rushing to get somewhere ‘important’ while something beautiful was just around the bend? Does the “Life is passing me by” cliche seem familiar? I’ve felt like that and missed significance, but I’ve also learned to slow down to see what’s over the next hill or beyond the horizon-and I’m glad I did.

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Expanding my view is how I describe living more in the moment. The opposite is life in the fast lane (guaranteed to blow your mind as one band described it). Expansion requires discipline and developing a ‘new’ set of eyes, but it is worth the effort. Clearer vision results in seeing something that was there all along, but has been often overlooked. Once I expanded my view the scene I was looking at takes on a whole new perspective. I begin to grasp the beauty of each sunset and marvel at the complexity of God’s creation. Sipping coffee with a friend takes on a deeper meaning. Watching a bird build a nest becomes fascinating. As I begin to comprehend this dynamic, I begin to flourish within myself…at least that is how it seems…and I like that feeling.

Herons, Routines & Change

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Routines are a part of our daily existence. Many are essential, some are detrimental, and others are neutral in their affect upon our lives. Take this Blue Heron for instance. Every morning (I assume his behavior is the same since I have always seen him near the same spot at this lake in the dawn hour). His routine probably results in a breakfast meal of sorts so it could be described as essential.

People, on the other hand, are a bit more complex, as are their routines and the reasons for them. Something I have noticed about routines since I am between jobs: they can be both comforting and boring. With the exception of going to work, I have not altered my early morning or evening routines a great deal. I have made a few changes which are refreshing. I find myself feeling a bit uncomfortable at times since I had followed the same week day routine for decades.

Change can be positive or negative depending on one’s perspective. I choose to embrace this time of change optimistically. Here’s to good fishing!

Sun, Sea & Serenity

Just returned from a brief vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. For five days we experienced 84 degree (29 C) days with plenty of sunshine, gentle rolling waves, warm sandy beaches, and a peculiar sort of serenity amidst many vacationing souls.Cellphone Pics to 11-18-14 076This post really isn’t about all of the luxuries associated with taking such a vacation: great location, wonderful resort, delicious food, terrific pool and beach, awesome views, breath-taking sunsets, pleasant people, and even cleaning by others. What else can I say, except we were very blessed to have experienced all of this.Cellphone Pics to 11-18-14 018No, this is about something less tangible, but much more important.SL-1 153This post, and this trip, have to do with the benefits of simply changing scenery in order to relieve tension and regain a positive perspective. Two things immediately come to the surface: cost and time. In our case, the cost was relatively minor due to frugal planning, but one doesn’t have to go to exotic locales to gain a fresh view. Nor does one have to allot a lengthy period of time to gain that much-needed change in perspective…although we wouldn’t have minded staying longer. The most important factor in conjunction with the change of scenery came about due to a conscious choice to stop the stress by getting off the hamster wheel and simply just be. I have become increasingly more in-tune with the importance of simply being. Perhaps this comes with age, and perhaps with wisdom. Or, it may be borne from necessity, but whatever the reason, less doing and more being is going to become a part of our daily agenda. I will readily admit that sitting in a lounge chair on the beach, munching on fresh guacamole and chips, sipping a Corona and watching the waves wax and wane sure made ‘being’ a bit easier than if we were at home !SL-1 100Photos by Cheryl & Michael via Canon SL-1 and Samsung Galaxy 3.

Point of View

7-30-14 010I’m curious as to what captures your attention when you first view this photograph. I know what I see, and it isn’t all that clear. However, I still like the variety of colors and shapes found in these flowers, regardless of their clarity (something in extreme focus). My point of view from a photographer’s perspective is affected by light, angles, distance, movement, camera settings, and much more. As applied to me personally, my point of view is affected by my state of mind, stress level, amount of sleep, pain level, happiness level, relationships, events, trials, schedules, etc.  Below are two more examples of the same perspective dynamic, with each image taken from the same location and within a few seconds of each another. The difference is in the focus aspect of my camera (depth of field). This was purposely done to emphasize what I wanted to be in focus: Carson or the flowers. I could have chosen to make everything in these images clear, but that would not help me in making a rather simple point. And, my point is…………………………………. 7-3-14 018How we view life and respond to it can be boiled down to what we focus on. The clearer our perspective (point of view) usually results in an objective response while the opposite generally holds true. Namely, out-of-focus perspectives result in very subjective and often overstated or inaccurate responses, and often create problems.7-3-14 017I was reminded of this dynamic when I listened to a wonderful song by Johnny Nash from 1972. The lyrics go like this: I can see clearly now, the rain has gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds which had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) sunshiny day. I encourage you to listen to this song as it will put a smile on your face. May all your days be filled with lots of sunshine and your perspective clear.

Perspective

6-24-14 004Optometrist: With the spoon over your left eye, please read the top lines, and then the bottom numbers.6-24-14 003 Optometrist: Now, with the spoon over your right eye, please read the top lines and then the bottom numbers. Which is clearer: the first image or the second?  Patient: Well doctor, it all depends on what I am focusing on. Optometrist: What do you mean? Patient: When I stare at the object in the distance I can see it clearly. And, conversely, when I focus on the object up close I can also see it clearly. However, I can’t seem to focus clearly on both objects at the same time. What should I do? Optometrist: That’s simple. Open both eyes when you stare at something and all will be clear. Patient: You mean I don’t need corrective lenses? Optometrist: No, but don’t be mistaken…you need vision correction, but that won’t be achieved with glasses, contacts or LASIK. Patient: Then how? Optometrist: By changing your perspective. None of us can see clearly when we view life from a narrow point of reference. We must expand our field of vision which allows more light to enter through our eyes, into our minds, and which eventually illuminates our hearts. By developing a greater point of view we see more clearly. The result will be an objective perspective.

Lost and Found

Carson 10-12-12 Recently, I found myself in a real pickle. One cold and rainy evening I was alone with Carson, our five-year old Westie. Cheryl left for an outing and I decided to leave the gates open to our back yard because I wouldn’t be letting Carson out-unless he was on a leash-on such a poor weather evening. Carson likes wet weather, and he loves to dig, which equals a muddy mess of a canine. Our garage is in the back of our house which is why we have gates to block off the back yard for Carson. Well, as I was multi-tasking (yes, men do this, contrary to what is often stated against this possibility) I forgot that I left the gates open (consequence of multi-tasking). Carson was really bugging me to go outside and the rain had let up a bit so I let him out. I had resigned myself to the fact that he would need a good dip in the tub after he came in. Herein lies the problem…Carson didn’t come back in a reasonable amount of time so I stepped outside to see where he was. Gulp. I saw the open gates and knew that Carson was long gone. I didn’t panic, but I was pretty upset. I immediately went into action, donned my coat, and grabbed my super spotlight, leash and car keys. Off I went scouring the neighborhood with spotlight illuminating every yard, fence, doorway, tree, etc. It’s a wonder someone didn’t call the police on me for voyeurism! After about a half hour of searching from the car I decided to go home and walk the area closer to our house; the more familiar locales. Much to my relief, as I pulled into the driveway, the Jeep’s headlights illuminated my bright white pooch grazing under our neighbor’s pin oak tree. I jumped out of the car with the leash, fully expecting a chase to ensue. Rather than run away which he would have done two years earlier, Carson actually came to me. I cannot adequately express the relief I felt at the moment I saw him and then held him. I was overjoyed! I actually rejoiced. And, yes, he needed a dip in the tub which I gladly provided. However, by this point I was exhausted so we just chilled together on the couch which was a rather satisfying end to this affair.Jan. 1, 2012 Is There a ProblemI recall another incident many years ago which involved my son when he was a toddler. We had taken a driving vacation throughout the Southwestern United States and stopped in Winslow, Arizona to spend the night. After checking into the facility we unpacked the car of luggage and necessities for the night. It didn’t take long for an inquisitive little boy to stray from us, and before we knew it, we couldn’t find our son. The hotel was relatively close to the highway which increased the urgency to find him. Our imaginations ran wild. Did someone grab him? Is he near the highway? Will we find him in time?  I panicked. The emotional angst I felt was horrible. I have little doubt that all who have raised a child have had this type of experience at least once, and perhaps many times depending on the child! Fortunately, we found our little guy exploring near a rear door which was walled off from view. I snatched him up and hugged him tight. I’m sure I did the usual parent thing wherein I scolded him for leaving us, but inside I knew I should have kept a better watch over him. I was overjoyed to have found him okay and in time before something bad could have happened. I rejoiced that I found Jared alive and well.Carson's View 4-6-12

Perspective is everything when it comes to life. While contemplating these incidents, I was reminded of a story from the Gospel of Luke which speaks of the lost and found. The story in Luke’s narrative (chapter 15) focus’ on a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. All three were found and there was much rejoicing. I love rejoicing! It is the opposite of despair and gloom. I have an observation about being lost, and I see a parallel between my stories and those told in Luke’s gospel. In the incidents where Carson and my son were missing, they didn’t know they were lost. The sheep, the coin (if it could reason) and the wayward son didn’t know they were lost. In the case of the prodigal son, he eventually realized his dilemma, but clarity only came about after great trial and failure. So, if they didn’t know they were lost, were they? Objective reasoning tells us, yes, they were lost even though they weren’t aware of it. If that is true, how about you? Are you lost in your life? I used to be, but I didn’t know it. I suspect most will say, “No, I know exactly who I am and where I am going in life. I’m not lost at all”. Remember these examples. The missing didn’t know they were lost until they were found. I was found (rescued) many years ago by a man named Jesus. Once I understood what he had done for me by giving away his life for mine, did I really comprehend how lost I was-all the time not knowing it. You may be confused, lonely, hurt, depressed, exhausted, poor or overwhelmed…in all circumstances, Christ knows you and your situation. If you accept his invitation to join him then you are no longer lost. That’s great news for all to hear! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas (which was meant to revolve around him, but actually resembles more of a consumer festival without the guest of honor), I ask that you search your heart and be honest about your state of being: lost or found. If lost, turn to Christ. If found, thank Christ. Either way, he is the answer and the true reason for the season we call Christmas. May joy be your hallmark this winter and in the coming year. Merry Christmas, and peace on earth, good will toward all people.751