... to God be the glory!
... to God be the glory!
SUCCESS by Ryan O'Keefe
Success is an interesting word. Success can be defined in different ways for different people. However, there is a general definition that seems to be implied when the word is used. That definition is: accomplishing your goal(s).
I'd like to propose a different definition for this word, Success.
Success: One thought, word, or action that pushes you towards your goal.
Too often we think success is making it to the finish line. But in reality, success is one step. It's one thought. One word. One action. One day.
One thought shift from "I can't" to "I can" is a success. One word shift from "I feel hopeless" to "There is hope" is success. One action shift from "stopping when you make a mistake" to "getting up and continuing to press forward" is success.
It's not the finish line that reaps the reward. It's the journey. Because on the journey, you learn the fruits of labor. The journey is where character, integrity, and perseverance are built.
Too many people give up on themselves and on their goals because they have a skewed definition of success. They look at the big picture and get psyched out.
Success happens moment by moment, day after day, year after year. Do the right thing in this moment and the next and the next. If you miss it, one thought, one word, or one action; forget what lies behind and press on to the next one! You can't change the past.
If you do succeed one moment after another, you ARE successful.
Tic. Tock. Tic. Tock. Tic. Tock.
A sound we can all recognize and typically would relate to is an old man standing by a clock with a pipe and just passing time. But have you ever thought about time? What is time? How do you measure time?
Over the past weeks, one of my biggest struggles has been to comprehend and remember my days of the week. I know it sounds weird and it makes me feel like a crazy person… but it is real life y’all! I check my calendar all the time and ask people what day of the week it is! Yikes!
Days seem to go by slower, time seems to be far more simple, and there are moments where I honestly, like I said, have no concept of the days of the week. And while at first it was quite annoying, I realized it is because I have found myself sitting still much more. While the last eight weeks seem like they have gone so slow, the feeling of brokenness and fear of the first phone call to the waiting game of what is to come, so much has happened and it has felt like an eternity all at the same time.
One day early on in this journey, I was talking with one of my best friends Angie and she said “time seems fragile”. It was such an intriguing statement to me in the moment because time was the only thing I wanted, and gosh I wanted it so badly. I would do anything to control it and have more of it. I felt that I could not control it. I wanted physical time with my family. I hated that I couldn’t control this nasty thing that was threatening our time with our dad, husband, or friend. I hated the quiet time in the days because it brought up worry and I was reminded constantly of everything I could not control and all of the what ifs’.
Time seemed to be my best friend and worst enemy all at the same time. William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”.
Isn’t this such a true statement? Time is by far the most valuable thing you and I have. But the thing about valuables is most often if something happens to them or they get wasted, they can be replaced. But time is a valuable that if not used wisely or is wasted… you can never get back. It is gone. 100% gone.
Time has taught me many things. One of those things is being worried, which has taught me a lot about being present. One of the biggest wasters of time I have learned recently is ‘worry’. Gosh, I am learning worry is so ugly and it is honestly really obnoxious and something that consumes so many of us far more often than we realize. It is all consuming. Worry can ruin your day faster than most anything.
Matthew 6:34 msg. says … “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
Oh that’s good stuff! God is in control. God gave us today, why would we waste it? We are not guaranteed tomorrow.
What if we were present just in the moment and didn’t worry about tomorrow? What would we see that God is trying to reveal to us? Who would we interact with if our eye’s were open? What would we hear if we weren’t worried listening to our own thoughts?
I truly believe in the moments where we give our worries to the Lord, we are able to be present in the right moment, and time is no longer something we crave because we haven’t wasted a moment. We have cherished every second of every minute of every hour of this day. We will create beautiful memories, share amazing stories, and have some of the most special moments with people we love. We are available to the Lord to do his good work. We will see God’s children in the light he sees us.
So I ask you these questions: Where are you not present that you wish you could be more present? Where do you need to lean in and engage? Who needs you to be present today? What are you worrying about that you need to give to the Lord, so you don’t miss what is right in front of you?
I will be praying for you as you give these worries and distractions to the Lord. I pray God blesses the time you have each day. Remember time is fragile. Take care of it.
A fun memory of when dad stopped and understood that time was fragile and special.
Some of my greatest memories come from moments of stillness and time. There was a day where I needed to drive and just think. Dad said “hop in the car”, so I did. We drove with rain pounding on the front window of his car for what seemed like hours. Now late into the night, he pulled into the parking lot of an Elementary School, put his car into park, put our phones into a bag, turned up the music really, really loud (and I mean really loud) and opened up all the windows and let the rain pour into the car. I remember sitting there thinking he is such a goofball and a kid, but I love it! It wasn’t anything fancy or planned, but it was unusual and the time that was given just to me. This is one my greatest memories, Dad stopped his world for just a few minutes when I felt my world needed to stop. It was the little things that made a huge difference.
Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement through this journey. We are so blessed by our village that we have surrounding us. Love y’all.
Why My Dad?
Throughout my entire life, my dad has been someone people remember. Whether it was as a coach, a pastor or as a friend. Once you know Tom O’Keefe, you never forget him. He draws people in with his joy for life. Where he looks around and see’s the good. He has taught me to be the good that people see. To let our actions, speak to others. No matter what’s going on with him or any of us, he reminds me that someone else has it worse. Where sacrificing his comfort for someone else comes as second nature. But the root of all of this is how his faith drives every moment of every day. People see this in him, and are encouraged. He is an influence to everyone who knows him.
As this situation has rolled out, people have expressed their sympathy and have been more generous to our family than I could ever imagine possible. But a reoccurring subject has caught me off guard. People have rejoiced at how many people’s faith my Dad is influencing. How his joy and personal tribute to the work of the Lord is changing lives. And it is… but why does it have to be my dad? Why did my dad have to get cancer? I look at the life he has led and the work he has done for others and can’t fathom why that is not enough.
My first emotion in all of this was anger. Anger that this disease controls so many people’s lives. Anger that this is happening at this point in my life. Anger that it is my dad going through this. Then it hit me, God chose him, because he knows my dad better than he knows himself. Every reason that I am angry, is a reason why God chose my dad. Because he is awesome. He has the strength and devotion to use this for will of the Lord. One life would be enough of a reason, but my dad is influencing hundreds of lives.
“God has A REASON for allowing things to happen. We may never understand his wisdom but we simply have to TRUST HIS WILL.” –Psalm 37:5
So now I trust. I can understand why it is my dad. And I am so proud of him.
Inside a room surrounded by people with arms lifted high worshiping, and loud music playing where I couldn’t hear my own voice, all I could do was to feel the tears roll down my face. To many, these tears may have represented something, but to me they represented many things... tears of sadness, tears of fear, tears of longing, tears of joy and belief.
See, over the past few weeks, if I am being honest, I have had days where worry and doubt will creep in and consume my mind. Moments where my knees can't stand strong on their own or it becomes hard to breathe. On Sunday, when we waived as Mom and Dad left the drive way, this reality of this journey hit. It hit hard. It hurt to see them drive, where distance was created. These feelings can be consuming, to the point of feeling paralyzed and stuck. When I am not actively fighting these moments it creates a pain and brokenness that I truly believe the Lord would never intend.
I have moments where I honestly think... why Dad? Why Now? It just doesn't make sense honestly. I have moments where I just wish this was all a bad dream and I could wake up and this not be happening.
And honestly I Know it shows my humanness of doubt and my lack of faith. But I have to be okay with these moments because...
On the other hand I have many more days, which seems to be most days actually, where they have been consumed with overflowing joy, confidence, faith, and a belief in healing. Again, as Mom and Dad were leaving, they were laughing and overflowed with love. Dad was chanting, “high ho, high ho, its off to Chemo we go” as they packed the car. Who does this? Well my Dad does. He is our Super Hero. Why wouldn’t he be chanting these things. The laughter Mom and Dad had on that day, reminded me of who they have raised us to be. We are to be real, to be love, to be joy.
When Dad first told us about the journey we were beginning on, he used this phrase “if your faith and those people around you faith hasn’t already grown and strengthened, you are wasting this”. While I knew this was a true statement, at the initial time I was still in processing mode and pretty broken, I didn’t know how this would be true.
Well quickly, I realised his faith and strength was strengthening mine. It has been interesting with what I do some of the things that I have learned. I am realizing that that for many people, they may see the title “Pastor” and think that “I am holding it together” or “I am wearing a hat” of a role. But what I have realized and want people to know is that at a young age, I was taught and had instilled in me a childlike faith. A faith that believes God can and will do anything. A God that we can come to with all of our requests, whether small or big. A God who hears the cries of his children. I also have learned, that as a kid I was allowed to hurt, to cry, to be angry. I was allowed to feel all these things but I couldn’t do this if it was going to impact negatively or hurt those around me.
We connect with people in our brokenness. God is going to use the moments of sharing the brokenness and his victories to strengthen not just us but those around us. We must celebrate EVERY moment. Dad says “we must praise God for the results before we even get them”.
At Church we sang a song called “Miracles” by Jesus Culture and I loved these lyrics. (I have attached above the below so you can listen to this amazing song.) The chorus of this song is so simple but so powerful…
I believe in You, I believe in You
You’re the God of miracles
I believe in You, I believe in You
You’re the God of miracles
Our God is the God of miracles. I believe this. I believe it with my whole heart. In the moments of weakness, I can sit in tears and grief and know that we have a God of miracles who knows far more than me and is in control.
I want to encourage you also, lean in. Know it is okay to be broken today as long as you lean in to the strength that only Jesus gives. Find Joy, acknowledge the feelings of today and look forward at what is next.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to tell you.
If you Google the word "help", the first thing that pops up is, "[to] make it easier for (someone) to do something by offering one's services or resources." And I want you to know you have a team, a family, friends all standing behind you and everyone wants to help. Let them. Together we can win.
Together we're a chess board: Pawns are your 5 kids, Life Group, my parents, etc.; Castles are your parents; your siblings Kevin and Donna are your Knights; your other siblings, Michael & Jimmy, are your Bishops; your Queen is Stephanie and YOU are the King. (Not to mention the ENDLESS number of pieces in the box, waiting to be used.)
And just like in chess, we're all here to protect the King.
It's a long, mentality challenging game and we all have to sacrifice ourselves in order to keep the King safe; because what's the point in playing if you don't have a King!
President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, once said "No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better - because your job is to try to help everybody else get better."
I don't know how you feel, but I'm sure while you are grateful to have so many people asking what they can do to help, you don't want to be a burden. But I'm here to tell you, you're not. Like President Kim said, your job is to get better, and by doing so, we'll all be better.
If you open the Bible app, the verse of the day is: "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 NIV
And if you know your history, the ONLY person who was, and still is, more powerful than the King is God!! If we can ask Him for help, why can't we be asked to help?
I said all that to say this; "Take all the help you can. We need a King, a leader, a friend, a dad."
And you're our King. And we love the King.
We're here, waiting for your orders.
Love, Jarrod ("FSIL")
"A Drop in the Ocean"
As the sun rises in the morning over the vast ocean, I look at the horizon on the beach and sit in a place of awe. The wind blows softly on your face, the taste and smell of the salt consume your senses, and all you hear is the stillness of the new day. As the waves of the ocean at this point roll in softy I know that later today the waves will be crashing with white caps at the coast, I wonder how can things change so quickly?
Over the last few weeks, I compare the time we have spent in prayer as the ocean I love to sit at. Two years ago, all six of us were in Mexico for Thanksgiving. Each morning we would wake up, way earlier than you should on vacation, and sit on one of those really cool beach beds and watch the sunrise (like the one above). I love that our family has the same love for the beauty of creation. These moments are sweet and moments that I will always cherish.
Over the last three weeks, which seem like a lifetime, I feel that I have experienced the tides of the ocean. I have seen the beauty of the sunrise through God’s constant reminders that he has gone before us. I have sat in the peace of the beautiful morning waves by experiencing a peace that only God can provide, and have felt the beating of the white caps as overwhelming news rolls in.
On this side of heaven, many daughters and sons don’t get to experience a relationship with a worldly father that resembles God’s love as our heavenly father in the way that me, Ryan, Jennifer and Joshua have. They way in which Dad has loved mom over the last 30+ years is admirable. We are a pretty blessed crew.
The recent news can be heartbreaking and devastating if you look at it from a worldly perspective, but I find myself being reminded that in God’s eyes this is so minuscule and small. It is a reminder of who our God is. That in the stillness of our days or in the storms, our God’s beauty and character does not change. Our God is constant, our God is good, our God is a healer, our God is faithful, our God is so many more things. We must put all our trust in him. No questions asked.
In Mark 11:23-24 “Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
No matter the situation, we must remember that God is constant. God is powerful. We must sit in these moments of the beauty of his creation. We have to cherish and show gratitude in the moments of peace. But most of all, we have to remember that in the moments of a waves crashing over us, our God calls us to be his sons and daughters and draw near to him, bury our face in his chest and depend on him to bring strength, courage, and faith. Our God is a faithful God.
God loves you, me and all those arounds us more than we can even comprehend. Lean in, let our good good God hold you close, and know God’s got this!
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