Success in 2017...Some Thoughts
It’s almost 2017…almost. Many of you are planning New Year’s Resolutions to accompany your celebration of the turning of another calendar year. It’s a common practice among those in our culture to deem the start of a new year as a time to suddenly start doing what’s important. However, if these resolutions were really something of great importance, would we not have started them the moment that we first realized their worth?
I’m not a big believer in the “New Year’s Resolution” as an effective means of conveyance to change the life of someone who has procrastinated upon the implementation of doing something really important in their life. If you really need a marker-date to start something good, there’s a numeric classification attached to every single day of the year. When you realize you need to start, pick that day and begin the process. Waiting for January 1st is only a sign that you really don’t hold this 'new thing' of any real importance, nor do you hold it in as high of a regard as you think you do...or probably should.
As the New Year approaches, we do have a moment to evaluate the activities of the previous year. We can probably classify all of these evaluations under the two categories of “successful” or “unsuccessful.” Our failures may outnumber our victories, and they probably will, but such is life. As some would assume, failing at something doesn’t always mean that we simply did a bad job or that we didn't put forth a good effort. Failure is a marker of effort. If you’ve never failed, then you’ve never tried. Let's be sure to understand that.
I love to read. Over the years I have read many books that compare the activities of those who are successful versus those who are not. Today, I wanted to share some of that information with you. Do with it as you will…
Successful people read everyday…Unsuccessful people do not
This is a fact grounded in almost every study that I have read. People who are successful take the time to read. Reading stimulates the mind. Read books, newspapers, articles online…read everything you can, anytime you can. Read the works of people you agree with, and read the thoughts of those you disagree with, as well! Reading enlightens us, and it opens up cognitive processes in our mind that are not touched by video games, television sitcoms, or movies. Many people have told me that they hate to read. If you hate to read, then you probably hate to learn. Successful people understand the importance of reading.
Successful people compliment…Unsuccessful people criticize
To be successful in our world requires a mind that can detect the positive hidden inside a sea of negative. Successful people are positive. They focus their energies on finding the positive and building upon it. Their mindset is one of optimism, and they don’t allow themselves to become entangled in the negative evaluation of others. Criticizing consumes portions of your mind (and ultimately your life) that you could be using to improve your own personal situation. Critics are almost always insecure people who are seeking to prop up their own deficits by exposing the deficits they see in others. When successful people identify a problem in their own organization, they engage their energies in finding solutions. They do not make excuses, and they do not compare their ‘bad’ to the ‘greater bad’ they see elsewhere. Successful people do not burn their energies on criticism.
Successful people embrace change…Unsuccessful people fear change
Change is a fact of life. For anything to grow, change is a requirement. When we fear change, we stifle what could be, settling instead for the comfort, and often complacency, of what has always been. The influences of change are certainly not always good, but simply fearing change for the sake of fear is foolishness. Adapt, overcome, and realize that success will most certainly be accompanied by some sort of change. Albert Einstein had it right with his notion that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." A fearful person who refuses to change will never be successful.
Successful people forgive others…Unsuccessful people hold grudges
You will be “done wrong” in this life. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s coming. Wait for it… People can simply be mean. They will try to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the head of the line. These individuals are not worthy of your time, so take a moment to be angry and move on. I am aware that this is a lot easier said than done, but forgiveness is a practice of the intelligent and successful, and it is a practice that is well worth your time. When you forgive someone who has perpetrated a wrong against you, then you are denying them a place in your mind…a place that should be filled with optimism, creativity, and focus. Holding grudges inhibits you in far too many ways to even discuss. Just let it go. Successful people always seem to be trailed by critics, and there's a reason that the critics are trailing and not leading. Winston Churchill once said: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” Let them bark (they're going to bark anyway), and you move on with your life. Success demands it.
Successful people talk about ideas…Unsuccessful people talk about others
Unsuccessful people love to criticize and gossip. In my opinion, gossip is the tool of the feeble mind. It’s commonplace among those in our culture, but small and feeble minds are commonplace as well. If you want to succeed, then empty your mind of gossip, and focus your energies on the things that are relevant in your own personal pursuit of success. Talking about others only detracts from your own forward progress, and it makes you look as foolish as you are trying to make others look by talking about them. Be better than that. Be smarter than that. Frankly, if you’re going to be successful, then you don’t have time for the activity of gossip.
Successful people continuously learn…Unsuccessful people think they already know it all
About the time that I think I have a good handle on life, I learn that I really don’t. There is always something to learn, and there will always be something to learn. If you think that you know it all, let me assure you that your delusional belief is proof, all by itself, that you don’t. We can always glean something new from everyone that we meet, everything that we read, and every experience that we undertake. To think that we have all the answers is a sign of ignorant foolishness, and it will stagnate our growth and drop us hard at the doorstep of failure. Actually, it will throw us over the doorstep, through the front door, and right into the middle of the abode of failure. Don’t ever assume that you can’t learn something new everyday. Regardless of how good you are at something, there will always be someone better. Successful people seek out those who are more skilled than they, for the sole purpose of learning from them. When they find them, they are not intimidated by someone of greater skill or knowledge; instead, they should feel privileged to have the opportunity to learn something new. We don’t succeed by thinking that we know it all; we succeed by understanding that we don’t.
Successful people accept responsibilities for their failures…Unsuccessful people blame others for their failures
Like I said before, failure is definitive proof that you tried. When you try and fail, you should view that as a learning experience. If you truly failed because of someone else, then you have just learned a lesson... do not include them in the process again, under the same circumstances, without taking the time to help make them successful. However, successful people take ownership of their efforts. Always pointing fingers at others is a sign insecurity, and it will not lead you any further down the road to success. Pick up, adjust, reevaluate, implement, and continue on with the journey. Blaming others for your failures is a sign that you may not be mentally prepared for success, as success will always be preceded by some degree of failure. If you’re constantly trying to assign blame, then you’re never really concentrating on the pursuit of success…you’re only concentrating on the reasons you haven’t achieved it. If you stay there too long, your life will turn out to be 'just one big excuse.' Successful people don't embrace excuses...they embrace solutions.
Successful people have a sense of gratitude…Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement
One of the quickest ways to achieve failure is to claim an illegitimate ownership to success. If you don’t believe me, then try it. Go down the road of trying to piggyback on the work, effort and investment of others who have achieved success, and then try to convince them that you deserve the same success simply because you exist. The cancer of ‘entitlement mentality’ is running rampant throughout our country. It’s a doctrine that everyone ‘deserves’ to be successful regardless of their efforts. It’s like giving someone a participant trophy for coming in last. Races have but one winner. As much as we love to award second and third place medals, there is only one true winner. Ultimately, and frankly, second place is the very first loser of the race. Although their effort was good, it still did not win the prize. We seem to celebrate mediocrity, and we try to feel good about it by making the mediocre performers feel that they have been successful too…when, in reality, they may have failed.
When I was in school, if you came in last, you didn’t get anything. Not only that, you didn’t feel like you should get anything. Today, that mindset has changed. The truth is, we are all given the same 24 hours that comprise a day. What we do with that time is up to our own determination. If we use it wisely, work hard, and achieve, then we’re probably headed in the direction of success. However, success will never ‘find’ us. Success isn’t pursuing anyone. It’s not a predator. Success can be hard to find even for those who work very hard to attain it. Keep standing at the back of line with your hand up screaming that you're entitled, and I guarantee you that success will always be out of reach...not "just out reach," no, instead, it will be "way out of reach." Oddly enough, those who feel entitled to success are ungracious when they do not achieve it, while those who are successful are often filled with gratitude. This is not always the case. There are certainly those people who achieve success and flaunt it; however, I believe most successful individuals possess a heart of gratitude. No one owes you anything. If you want to be successful, work hard and be gracious.
Successful people set goals…Unsuccessful people never set goals
How can we ever hope to evaluate anything if there are no parameters set up to do so? How can we even define what success looks like if we don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish? Successful people set goals and drive their energies and resources in the direction and pursuit of those goals. Unsuccessful people float through life without a plan, and specifically without goals. They may not even know they are unsuccessful, because they’ve never defined what success actually is.
A life devoid of goals is a life devoid of purpose. Goals should drive us forward and focus our energy. Setting goals is healthy and positive. Setting goals causes us to engage in life. Someone with a lack of goals is someone with a lot of extra time on their hands…time to be entertained watching TV or playing video games, time to criticize the efforts of those who are trying to reach their own goals, time to gossip, time to blame others, time to reminisce about everyone they hold a grudge against, time to wonder why the world is changing around them, and time to do everything but learn. Successful people understand that setting goals is something of great importance. So, if you’re trying to be successful in an endeavor, then set up some goals, and start the process of achieving them. Those goals may change along your journey, but not having any goals is proof that you probably embrace mediocrity. Have a plan. Success reveals itself to the mind prepared to find it and the effort prepared to achieve it.
This year is about to become a thing of the past. Tomorrow is only as bright as your work and your efforts are willing to make it. If you think that 2017 will be better than 2016 without any additional effort, then prepare yourself to be disappointed. However, 2017 holds great promise for those who are willing to work hard, learn from failure, and practice some commonsense. Every year is a blessing from our wonderful God. Embrace the opportunities placed before you in the dawning of a new year, and plan to succeed in more than words alone.
May God bless your 2017!
Day 70...The Road That Led Home
I hope that you have all had a very Merry Christmas! My family certainly did, in large part to my dad’s presence in our home this Christmas…for the first time in 70 days! Even in light of the severe circumstances that erupted into our lives in October, removing him from home, and engaging him on a long and hard path full of some very serious miracles, my father being home returned our little family to a comfortable and refreshing normalcy…a long awaited and very welcomed emotional sigh of relief. There’s a saying that tells us that ‘we never truly miss a loved one until we see their empty chair.’ Well, this Christmas, my father’s big brown leather recliner was occupied by a much slimmer, much healthier, and very much restored 81 year old. By the eternal grace of a loving God, I was not forced to stare upon an empty chair, but, instead, I was humbled and privileged to share laughter, love, and fellowship with the living and breathing miracle who is my dad.
For our family, the holidays are always full of laughter, great food, and the blessings of family. We enjoy each other, and we don’t hide that fact. In October, that tradition seemed to hang in a very delicate and often tedious balance, but, thankfully, this year, the tradition continued on.
Although the shadow of my mom’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree fell upon a host of gifts, festively wrapped, the real gift of our Christmas this year did not come wrapped in colorful paper. Instead, it came as a recognition of the profound infusion of grace that God has showered upon our family…the grace found in the continued life and health of my father. It’s a gift that we will surely never forget…a gift of immense magnitude, and a gift producing profound gratitude. I am thankful, and that’s an understatement.
Dad returned home on the morning of Thursday, December 22nd…again, 70 days from his departure. He is thrilled to be back in familiar surroundings, and he is doing great! We had concerns that he would need assistance with many things upon returning home. Frankly, he doesn’t need help doing anything. He’s very active; he does a lot of walking, and he’s eating very well. He can walk unaided, although, until he’s stronger, he’s very content with pushing a cardiac walker through the house and up and down the driveway. He needs no assistance standing or getting out of bed. It’s really quite incredible to see just how far God has delivered this wonderful man. Soon, I expect him to be back working on things in the garage, mowing, gardening, playing with tractors, etc… He’s on the way, and I think he’s determined.
There’s one word that has haunted my mind since this all began, and I still can’t shake it. It’s the word “restored.” Our God is a God of restoration and healing. Throughout this entire ordeal, there has been one verse that has stuck in my head, and it’s found in the book of Jeremiah. In context (because the Bible should always be read in context!), this verse is referring to God restoring Israel…but God used this entire chapter to speak very boldly to me, on a very personal level, since October 14th.
Jeremiah 30:17 says, “…I will restore you to health and heal your wounds…”
God was speaking to the dispersed nation of Israel in this verse regarding their situation, but, in His sovereignty, God did this very thing for my dad! He has brought about restoration that frankly was deemed a medical impossibility. He’s done what only God can do. He’s magnificently restored that which was previously in ruins. He’s healed and brought back that which was hopelessly lost, and He’s done it in a way that no one else can take the credit for the work.
Please know that my father is doing well! He’s getting stronger, and he’s looking forward to returning to life healthier and happier than ever! My father is a strong man; he always has been, but his Heavenly Father is the strongest of all! God was there throughout every medical procedure and test. He was miraculously working in the course of every moment, even when I, in pitiful faithlessness, failed to see Him. He was there through sleepless nights and restless days, through miles of travel, and severe emotional fatigue. He’s always been there, and it was by His grace, and through His work, that my earthly father traveled this long and very tenuous road…a road that, on day 70, thankfully led back home.
Soli Deo Gloria…To God, and God alone, be the glory!
We all pray…right? Even those who hold the most negatively adamant views regarding God will request prayer when the circumstances of their life spiral recklessly out of control. In a health crisis, a financial need, a family situation, or a simple greedy and self-absorbed request, to many, prayer is the last option on a long list of personal checklist fixes and repairs; if nothing else has worked, they may have the notion that prayer might? When all else has failed, try God; after all, that’s what He’s for…the very last option on a growing list of failed manmade schemes to get our way and find happiness...right? He certainly wouldn’t be upset that we consulted Him last, or, moreover, that we consulted Him in a veiled faithlessness…because if we’re consulting Him last, we’re more than likely consulting Him with little to no faith. If we really believed He would, or could help, we would have certainly consulted Him first, or am I wrong? There’s also the embarrassing possibility that God already knows, after consulting Him last, and in faithlessness, that He will also get our scathing personal blame for the outcome, specifically if things don’t go our way. From a prayer perspective, we can be a tough crowd. Our desires are insatiable, our requests often orginate from a heart of greed, and our patience is minimal, to say the very least.
God wants us to come to Him first…every time, in all things. But, He wants us to come to Him even when our circumstances aren’t exploding like bombs around us. God desires our constant fellowship. He wants to be involved in the moment by moment details of our life, even the ones that we consider mundane and boring. God is interested in our “boring.”
I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” How are you doing with that command? I’m not doing so well, but I’m working on it. If we are in a state of constant prayer and communication with God, then prayer would be our default in every situation, both good and bad. In that, we would be in a much more stable position to live in victory, specifically when the bad things inevitably come. But, a prerequisite of the victorious life is a strong, meaningful, and relevant life of prayer with God. The two run a stong spiritual parallel, but the victory always depends on the prayer.
Consequently, prayer is not always our first option…but, why? Why do we relentlessly try and push our communication with Almighty God to the exterior of our circumstances until the last possible moment? It’s as if we are trying to hide our need from a sovereign God, a God who knew about our need long before our birth. Possibly, we have an understanding that God’s will may not align correctly with our own sense of personalized entitlement and greed? Maybe our flamboyant narcissism hinders us from admitting that we actually need help? If we can’t do it on our own, then it’s certainly not all about us, now is it? Or maybe, just maybe, we don’t believe that God will answer our prayers our way…so why waste the time praying in the first place?
There's nothing wrong with praying for our desires. God has given us the right to bring our petitions to Him...even if they are, at times, greedy and self absorbed. We should feel comfortable in speaking our heart to God, because He already knows what we really want in the first place. He also understands that we don't have a complete understanding of His will and our requests to Him can be made in ignorance. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous presence of God doesn't always translate into relevant and trusting relationship in the life of His children.
God has a complete grasp of our real motives and intentions, and He knows the mindset in which we approach His throne, even when our real motives, when clouded by stress, frustration, greed, ignorance, and emotion are unknown to even us.
However, prayer becomes really powerful when we pray with a purposed and predetermined surrender of our own expectations to the perfect will of God, even when we're confused about the direction His will is taking us. If we are only praying for the outcomes, desires, and directions that we have already pre-evaluated to be acceptable in our lives, then we are basically praying for our will to be honored as supreme and sovereign. And often, in our eyes, God is only 'good' when He submits to the self-absorbed pseudo-sovereignty of our own desires. He’s only ‘good’ when He answers our prayers in a fashion that pleases our opinion and caters to our needs in the way that we mentally establish that He should. When we pray to God with that mindset, we’re trying to make Him into a form of puppet-genie…a God that we can control, a God only useful in filling our Christmas list of idolized requests. As Yoda would say…"A puppet-genie, God is not. When we pray that way…a fool, we are." When we have mentally prearranged a reverence for our our own will over God’s, then, in our life, we have tried to unseat God from His throne.
The power in our life is grounded in the perfect will of Almighty God, and keeping Him firmly seated on the throne of our ultimate desire. If we want to see the answered prayers take off, then we should evaluate the way we’re praying. A great deal of the issues that we pray about in our life arise as a manifestation of our profound misalignment with God's will. It’s like driving in a car with a tire that is out of balance; the ride can get rough…noticeably rough. If we pray for our desires, our way, and in our time, then we should be aware that we may actually be praying for that misalignment to continue. If that’s our real motive behind our communication with Almighty God, then we should possibly put on a helmet for the duration of our trip, because the rough and tumbled ride wil most assuredly continue. Of course, God won't answer our misaligned prayers, and we need to understand why. It is not God's desire that "our will" be done. It is His desire that "His will be done." And so, that is what will be. Not only is it pleasing to Him, but, even if we don't understand it at the time, His will is perfect for us. It will fit us like a glove...that is, once we decide to try it on for size.
God offers the solution to our mindset of prayer in the book of Matthew, specifically in Matthew 6:9-10 which says, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” This is an example, from the very outset of our prayer, that we have already surrendered our will, and we are purposed that His will be done, on earth, and in our own will and circumstances, as it is in Heaven. But, let's be sure to understand that those words, "Your will be done," must be more than, well...more than just words. There must be a deliberate foundation of surrender to those words. If not, we're just recklessely trying to fool a God who cannot be fooled. It may sound good in the prayer, but if it's spoken with insincerity, then let's understand that it's a practice in worthlessness.
We should certainly pray diligently for what is on our heart, but we should pray with a purposed expectation that God will help us see what His perfect will actually is in our situation. We should pray that God would help us to align our desires and expectations with the perfection that is only found in Him…even when we're failing to see beyond the great wall of our own desires and opinions.
Prayer is powerful communication with God, paid for and made possible by the innocent blood of our Redeemer, and it's more effective when that communication isn't one-sided. Be prepared to ask in faith, be prepared to submit to His will, and be prepared to listen for the perfection of God’s response, as He attempts to educate and align us with His will. We should never go to God with our hand out, unless our heart is in it.
Day 63...Strength Until the End
As I sit here typing this today, only one verse of Scripture is present in my mind…
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)
Sixty three days ago, around this time, I received a phone call from home. I had been mentally preparing for this call for years; it’s the call that you know is inevitably coming, but you’re not exactly sure when it will happen or who will be the subject. My mother simply said these words to me, “They’ve taken Bobby to the hospital in an ambulance. He wasn’t feeling well and his heart rate is low.” Those are the exact words that she spoke to me on October 14th around lunchtime. They are forever burned into my mind. I will always remember the clarity of my feelings, as my mind tried to wrap itself around the horror of what I feared was coming. My fears were correct, and I was unprepared.
At that point, my mom was unaware that only a few feet from where she was standing talking to me on the phone, the paramedics were already defibrillating her husband of over 50 years. We were both unaware that the fight for his life had already started, in the driveway of their home, before the ambulance ever left their property. That way would lay the foundation for a couple of weeks of extreme physical stress, days of sleeplessness, and emotional fatigue on a level that I had never experienced. I was unprepared.
This has been a long journey, but God has been so good. God has granted strength, when no strength was to be found. He’s granted peace in the middle of the storm, and, on more than one occasion, He’s visited with me while I sat alone in my truck, in the middle of the night, on the third floor parking deck of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, and calmed His desperate and often faithless child. He’s been good. You see, God was prepared.
Today, my father’s recovery has reached a point where we’re now looking at a possible release date from rehab of next Wednesday, December 21st.
It’s surreal in ways to image all that has transpired over the past two months. I’ve crammed a lifetime worth of worry into a schedule that was ill-prepared to fit it in. It’s taken a toll on me and my mother as we’ve watched events unfold that we had no positive control over, but God was always in control. He was always there, sometimes in the background, but mostly, He was right up front performing daily miracles that we obvious.
When I pray, seldom do I fail to ask God to be conspicuous to me in my life and circumstances. I want to see Him working, to see what He’s doing, and I want to join Him there. Honestly, I don’t often recognize Him at first, but that was not the case in my dad’s situation. He was conspicuous…almost daily, and I’m not talking about the peace of His presence. I’m referring to miracles in my dad’s health…miracles on a large scale…miracles that could not be explained by medical science. As I look back on the last two months, I find myself more overwhelmed with what God has done than at any other time in my life. I thank Him for being so obvious. I thank Him for simply coming in and taking over a very bad situation, a situation where I was hopeless for any control.
Today, my father sits on the cusp of his release from cardiac rehab. His ankle is still swollen, and we’re praying that swelling subsides soon. He can not go home until it does. His voice is back, his swallowing is back, and he’s eating great…and he’s finally eating a regular diet. The report from his cardiac surgeon, after only one visit, was that his condition is good enough that they do not need to see him again, and there will be no additional surgeries. He’s walking and moving well. He needs no help getting in and out of bed or standing, and his checker game has reached heights of professionalism that probably surprise him. He’s almost there.
It’s been a long time since my father left his home by ambulance on October 14th. His presence has been profoundly missed, but the miracles have been profoundly obvious. The journey, which is still not over, has been rough, and I can feel the effects of it to this very day, but we’re close to an ending…a happy ending. Thank you all for your prayers, and to God, my Heavenly Father, thank You for Your relentless pursuit of me and my family through this entire situation, and for being active and present in ways that I would have never imagined.
Mom and I are looking forward to a great Christmas this year. It’s our prayer that my father will be with us, happy, healthy, and restored by the hand of the same little baby Jesus who entered our world so long ago...the baby, born for sacrifice, who would become King. Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, and King, and He is, without a doubt, my father’s Healer.
Thank you again, my wonderful friends, for your prayers and kind words during this time. Please continue to pray with me that dad can make it home before Christmas, as we celebrate the gift of a reunited family. I'm looking forward to that possibility!
The two most recent Facebook updates are below…
December 8th, 12:23 PM
Update on dad…
I just wanted to let everyone know that dad is doing great! He's up walking a lot these days, riding stationary bikes, alienating the staff at the rehab by beating them senseless in checkers, eating well, and his voice has completely returned to one of clarity and strength.
He has two upcoming doctors appointments for a swallow evaluation on tomorrow and Monday. The therapists believe that he will pass these evaluations, and we're praying for that exact result.
As of yesterday afternoon, he was cleared for a regular diet, and he ate a baked chicken breast...in his own words, "the best chicken breast he's ever had." So, no more ground up mystery meats! He's still on thickened liquids until the results of his swallow study are completed, but that should be very soon.
He's now able to get up without the assistance of a bed rail, and this is a huge step forward. That was one of our greatest concerns upon his return home, but he can do that alone now, and he's getting better and stronger everyday.
The only news that was a little disappointing is their decision to hold him until after the New Year. We certainly wanted him home before Christmas, but we don't want him home before he's ready. So, we will gladly accept their determination to hold him until after January 1st, and we'll be looking forward to 2017!
Your continued prayers are still appreciated!
December 14th, 8:30 AM
Update on dad…
We are encouraged today, because dad's planned release date from rehab is next Wednesday, December 21st! He has experienced another episode of swelling in his ankle, which, from my understanding is just something that he will have to live with from time to time...it's a result of the surgery. If that swelling is gone by next Wednesday, he will be home in time for Christmas! That would make the total duration of this event 69 days long, and we're ready to have him back!
If you would, please pray that this swelling will diminish and that he will be released on Wednesday, December 21st!
Day 53...the end in sight.
I hope you all are doing well! My dad is doing great, and his progress over the past couple of weeks is simply amazing. He was in bad shape when this all began, but the grace of God has been noticeably extended to him over the past two months. Dad has always led a life that I feel reflects that of a man of Godly character and integrity. I know he’s not perfect, but I could only hope that my life reflects the virtues that his life so prominently display. I believe that God rewards those who do His will, follow His commands, and live appropriately. This is one reason that I believe God has allowed all of this to transpire, because God was not done with this wonderful man yet. He has more to accomplish...
He’s survived complete heart failure that “just happened” to occurred immediately following his entrance into the ambulance sitting in his driveway. That is not chance, my friends; that is the power of God’s impeccable timing. God knew what was about to happen, and He had provision available at the exact point of my father’s need. Incredible...
Now, 53 days later, he’s been released from the care of his cardiac surgeon with a report that his heart is great. No follow-ups, no concerns…just released with a new found health that only God can provide.
Currently, we’re waiting on his swallow-study result which he will have tested this coming Thursday and Friday. If they’re good, he should be coming home soon, and we’re hoping that’s before Christmas! Please continue to keep him and our family in your prayers!
Below are the updates that I posted on Facebook recently…
November 24th, 2:11 PM
Dad outside for the second time in over 40 days. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from a very thankful son of a recovering father! God is good!
November 26th, 1:53 PM
Watching UGA trying to beat Tech with my dad! Blessed! (UGA lost, by the way...)
November 29th, 1:00 PM
Update on my Dad…
Let me take a break from my schedule today and give you guys a little update on my father. It's been a while since I've posted anything about his progress, so here's some information…
He continues to improve, but the improvement has been slow, but it seems to be picking up a little momentum now. Over the past couple of days, he has been walking more...not because of therapy, but because he makes the choice to do so. He is still on thickened liquids, but he has a test for his swallowing coming up very soon. His voice is 100% most of the time, and he's sounding great! I can remember that over the first few days of this journey my overwhelming desire was to just talk to him...to just hear him speak. Today, he calls me on the phone to make sure that I'm doing ok...God is good!
This Thursday, he has his first follow-up appointment in Atlanta with his surgeon. We're certainly hoping that this goes well and that they find his heart functioning the way it should. I'm sure that they will discuss the possibility of stinting the other three blockages in his heart. That's coming, and it needs to be done, but that procedure will be much less traumatic to his body. It won't be coming soon, but I'm hoping that it will be done as soon as possible.
Dad had a great Thanksgiving. He was upbeat and happy, and we enjoyed our time together as a family for another Thanksgiving that was hand delivered by the magnificent grace of a faithful and loving God. The simple things are what hold the greatest importance. Following the circumstances of the past 47 days, Dad's presence among us was profound, because, medically speaking, he really should not have been there. My friends, if you have living parents, don't miss the relevance held by the days that they are alive and well. Those days won't always be here; they will pass, and your life will change. So, this was best Thanksgiving holiday of my life, and I will always remember it as a Thanksgiving full of the celebration of miracles.
We're now hoping that Dad will be home by Christmas. Honestly, I'm not expecting that to be the case, but I certainly hope that it is. If not, we'll have Christmas when he returns home...and not a moment sooner. Let's be sure to understand that, for me, the gift of his restored life has already brought Christmas into our lives this year. The celebration, the food, the gifts...that can wait until he's physically present with us. We may wrap him and place him under the tree. I'll need to remember to buy more wrapping paper...and some stronger tape…
Please continue to pray for his strength and his swallowing. That's the two biggest obstacles that he must overcome. When he gets over those hurdles, he can come home. My mother and his little dog, Max, will certainly be happy to see him there. He left home by ambulance around 1:00 PM on October 14th, 47 days ago...it's been a long time. We miss him.
Again, thank you for your prayers and communication during this time. So many of you have extended tremendous amounts of love to my family, and to me personally, and it has made this much easier. I'm blessed with so many great friends, and I'm humbled by the compassion that so many of you have shown. Thank you again, and I'll post about his progress again soon!
December 1st, 3:21 PM
Update on Dad…
Let me take just a second and breathe, as I continue to stand amazed at what God has done, and continues to do, in my father's life. It's simply incredible!
He had his very first follow-up appointment with his cardiac-thoracic surgeon in Atlanta today. It was his first, and it will be his last; they released him! Who saw that coming? Dr. Dean basically told him that, not only was his heart functioning perfectly, moreover, he wasn't concerned at all with the three remaining blockages in the heart, because his heart is getting all of the blood that it needs. So, there will be no coming surgeries to stint the remaining blockages. They were impressed with his progress, specifically at 81 years of age, shocked to hear his voice as strong as it is...and they said that there was nothing else that needed to be done on their end. We're all thrilled beyond measure!
He has a swallow study that will take place soon in Macon, GA, and we're praying for a great result. He is more energetic now than he's been since this all started...or, possibly, for the past decade, and he's getting stronger as his will to walk and move increases with his strength. Dad is doing really well, and we're finally seeing the possibility of the end of his stay in rehab and a return home.
This is day 49, and God, as always, has been amazing! Thank you for your continued prayers!
A good friend of mine recently reposted this on his Facebook wall a few days ago. This is an old Facebook post that I originally wrote on November 30, 2014, and I thought it might be worth sharing again here...
We concentrate too much on failure. No one likes to fail. With every failure in our life, it seems that our self esteem falls just a little lower. Those around us don't seem to help the problem. The world will remind you of your most current failures, and they will judge you right into the ground. Satan, on the other hand, will remind you of every failure that you have ever experienced in your life. Satan will convince you that you're absolutely worthless to any process, and he'll embed a load of doubt into your mind that will ultimately weigh down the success of any future endeavor that you might undertake.
The facts are simple...we all fail. If you don't think you fail, then you're failing at soaking up the reality of what it is to be human. Failure is a lifetime problem that we all must deal with; however, it is not a reason to bury ourselves in doubt. Failure is not where our identity should ground itself. Failure is not foundational, although we often make it foundational. We are not born to fail. Looking at it from another perspective, failure is an indictor of effort. To fail at something means that we tried something. We won't always succeed, but we also will not always fail.
God doesn't track His love for us by our long list of failures. God is a better judge than the other human beings that surround us, and He is a better judge than we are...as we pass our judgement onto the failures in the lives of others. With other people, we're normally only as good as our last failure. In the eyes of others, our successes are quickly forgotten when failure occurs...and there, the judgement begins. God looks to our heart, He sees our needs and our weaknesses, and He loves us in spite of the failure and through the failure. His love for us is unshakeable, infallible, and filled with much more grace than we afford to others in our life. In that fact, we are failures at dealing with each other.
My greatest fear in life is not the fear of failure. I'm not really sure what my greatest fear would be, but I know for a fact that it is not failure in the general sense of the word. But, have you ever thought about fearing success?
Churches are considered a success based off of many things that aren't relevant to the Kingdom of God. They are often judged on size, facilities, and the name recognition of the pastor. If they have a big budget and full pews, then we think they are successful. We judge others by their net worth, their car, how they dress, or the title on their business card. Huge successes can often hide the largest failures. Are we spending our time and efforts being successful in the things that matter, or are we simply fooling ourselves?
In Philippians 1:21, Paul makes a huge statement that might sound crazy to someone of great worldly success. He says: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We're all desperately trying to make a great life by acquiring wealth, building bigger houses, buying nicer cars, etc...none of which we want to leave. For so many, these things represent the culmination of their entire life's effort. How unfortunate that these things are temporal. They will age, they will decay, and they will ultimately fade away into obscurity. As we build magnificent palaces on earth, let us keep in mind that earth as well...will fade. Our time would be better spent building success in things that are eternal in nature...things that make our departure from this earth something to celebrate.
Success in our walk with God, for lack of a better term, is important. It's very important. If I fear failure in my life, it is that I fear missing God and His will because I'm distracted...distracted trying to make a success out of something that is not relevant. I've wasted way too much time in my life already chasing success. I want to succeed on a level that honors God with my thoughts, my words and my actions. I want to succeed in ways that disciple other's in the love of Jesus. I want to succeed in things that are important to God and God alone.
In light of God's sacrifice, in light of His love, and in light of His call in your life...how successful are you?
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!