4 Secrets to Guarantee a Successful Life

💡The secret to success is not really a secret. That is if you pay attention to the best people in life. Jesus. MLKJ. St. Francis of Assisi.

❤️ The people of unparalleled and unparalleled virtue.

My observations and experiences has helped me learn how to be successful.

🧡 I define success as experiencing daily joy in your life, developing strong & genuine relationships, and the ability to create opportunities for yourself.

Here is my list of how to be successful:

1️⃣ Humility—this is foundational for everything.

Humble people accept feedback and recognize (and can hire) people with more talent.

2️⃣Gratitude—enhances and stabilizes humility.

Being thankful helps you remember your beginnings and your priorities.

3️⃣ Action-oriented

Without this third attribute a humility, grateful person would be well-respected, but standing still—not reaching their full potential.

Action leads to growth—both personally and professionally.

4️⃣ Active listener/feedback consumer

Combined with character (humility + gratitude) and diligence (action) taking feedback seriously and implementing it as soon as possible puts you on the surefire track to success.

Add in consistency this makes the best recipe for lasting success.

Agree?

Would you add anything or reorder my list?

Let me know in the comments ⤵️

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How the Sacrament of Confession is Prefigured in the Old Testament


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2nd, 2017.
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I had a profound moment of truth-finding a few years ago when I was writing lesson plan for my Old Testament class on the Book of Genesis. We were discussing the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I have always been curious about the angelic tussle in Genesis 22-32.

Until I read Genesis 33:1-11, I never realized the significance of Jacob’s bout with the unnamed angel. Let me provide a little context of the situation between the two brothers leading up to chapter 33. Esau being the elder brother was supposed to inherit the firstborn blessing from his father Isaac. However, his mother Rebecca favored the younger son Jacob. Through a bit of chicanery Jacob attained the blessing from Isaac and a rift divided the brothers for most of their lives.

What’s in a Name?

The name “Jacob” actually means supplanter in reference to Genesis 27:36. This poses a dilemma for those that claim Jacob as a rightful patriarch of the Jewish faith. It is by way of Jacob’s struggle with the angel and the angel’s inability to defeat Jacob whereby a conversion takes place. In Genesis 32:28, the angel states, “You name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

The immediate next encounter with Esau a reconciliation occurs. Their exchange is as follows,

8Then Esau asked, “What did you intend with all those herds that I encountered?” Jacob answered, “It was to gain my lord’s favor.”9Esau replied, “I have plenty; my brother, you should keep what is yours.”10“No, I beg you!” said Jacob. “If you will do me the favor, accept this gift from me, since to see your face is for me like seeing the face of God—and you have received me so kindly. 11Accept the gift I have brought you. For God has been generous toward me, and I have an abundance.” Since he urged him strongly, Esau accepted (Genesis 33:8-11).

jacob wrestling with angel

Allegorically, Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel may be viewed as a foreshadowing of the sacrament of Confession. Anytime a name change occurs in the Bible a conversion takes place. One of the more notable instances is in the Acts of the Apostles where Saul encounters Christ and becomes Paul.

I urge you to have a wrestling moment with God. Let Him work in you and change you from a “Jacob” or “Saul” and transform you to an “Israel” or “Paul”. Practical tips during this Lenten season to grow in holiness may be to read the Scriptures and go to Confession. Let us journey together as we grow in holiness.

battle over soul

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Finding Little Joys Amid Autism’s Challenges

Joy of autism

🔷Our world does not readily accept differences. I want to be a help change that.

🧡 I want to bring tangibility and reality as to how autism looks in my son.

🔷According to C.S. Lewis, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

🧡 My faith has been lacking lately. This resulted in me so I was missing the miniature and miraculous letters forming a story before my own eyes.

🔷Ordinary developmental milestones I see as miracles for my three year old. We did not know if he would ever be able to talk.

🧡Recently, he said his full name for the first time ever!


Me: “Yes, Josiah that is your name on the wall. What letter is that [pointing to the ‘J’]?”

Josiah: “J, O, S, I, A, H!”

Me: “And what is your name?”

Josiah: “Jo-sia-ah, Fa-ee-in [Fabian], Sha-qin [Chicoine]!”


✨Miracles happen all the time we just need to slow down.

✨Have you ever experienced an ordinary miracle? If so, share your experience(s) I the comments.


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Muffingate 2020—New Miscreant or Adorable Accomplice?

🌐 January is the best time for starting a healthy lifestyle. Exercise more. Eat less.

🌐 It gets challenging if you are surrounded by the leftover sweets from Christmastime. Chocolate. Flavored popcorn. Biscotti. Peppermint. Muffins.

Muffins? That doesn’t sound like a holiday treat.

You’re right. It’s not! But I had to see if you were paying attention. Muffins cause mayhem.

This is a continuation of the story dubbed “Muffingate”—a level 7 shenanigan event!

🚨 🚨 🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨🚨🚨

📍The trial for the accused Muffin Miscreant was set for this month. The evidence against the spry one-year old Avila Catherine Geraldine is overwhelming.

Until now.

📍There is a new development in this shenanigan-laden event.

📍The Chicoineville police department suspect “ACGC” has an accomplice. While she was under house arrest, another muffin incident happened.

📍Video recordings show that the suspect never left her cell (crib) when the mayhem happened.

📍Is this a new miscreant or an orchestrated operation? Investigations will be taking place the rest of the month.

📍 Stay with PRNT TV 📺 to receive full coverage on this new scandal “sweeping” across this small town.

📍Text “antics” to 55555 to get text updates and exclusive interviews with the sheriff, eyewitnesses, and first-responders.

📍This has been I.M. Shocked with PRNT News reporting. Thank you for watching (reading)!

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Why Praying is Like Throwing a Boomerang


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 17th, 2017.


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Boomerangs. An interesting word to start off this post, but I was thinking today that people commonly treat prayer like it is a boomerang. What I mean is that we quickly throw a “Hail Mary” up to God and hoping that is immediately directed back to us [similar to how a boomerang, upon reaching its apex, curves back to the person who threw it].

To be honest I have been in a “boomerang” type of mindset relating to the subject of prayer for most of my life. It has only recently that I began to see prayer as being more of “like a game of catch with God”. Let me show you what I mean.

Playing catch involves two people just like prayer is a two-way communication with God. Catch also involves a trust on the 2nd person by the 1st person to receive the ball back–similarly God will always answer our prayers and “toss” them back to us. The only difference is the length of time it takes for God to respond and sometimes we feel a sense of abandonment.

Why Does God Abandon Us?

Well, for the past half-year I have experienced an intense feeling of abandonment from God in my life. In November 2014, my wife and I suffered a miscarriage of our baby.

Earlier that day, we were at the hospital and were able to see Jeremiah’s heartbeat.  Hours later my wife miscarried. She suffered quite dramatically during the ensuing two months. I, however, remained quite stoic–I wanted to put up a steel resolve, to be strong for my wife. But a parent suffering a miscarriage is devastating for many reasons.

I felt like I could not tell anyone about this because my baby was never born. Each month leading up to his due date [June] was like a dagger reopening the wound in our hearts that never fully healed.

I experienced a sense of abandonment. Where was God in all this suffering?

Going to the scriptures for comfort I reflected on Matthew 27:46. Jesus utters the words, “My God my God, why have you abandoned me?” It sounds eerily similar to my cries to God these past six months. A contextual read of the bible will show that Jesus is praying Psalm 22–a psalm of lament. Now a lament is a prayer of anguish or sadness especially in a situation where one is angry at God.

Abandonment Leads to Awareness of God’s Presence

Knowing that Jesus also experienced a sense of abandonment gives me hope. Weird as that might sound; Jesus’ loneliness on the cross is immediately followed by his resurrection (see Matthew 28). There is hope on the horizon for my family and I strongly urge anyone who is reading this post that prayers of lament are as legitimate as prayers of praise.

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Perhaps I have been seeking to employ a “boomerang” prayer and seeking a fast answer as opposed to undergoing a “cocoon-like” [lonely] period in my relationship with God before He returns my prayers in greater blessing that I could have ever anticipated.


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3 Ways Fiction Will Help You Escape the Strangeness of Reality


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 20th, 2017.


Mark Twain once wrote, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” While I do not fully understand the meaning of the great American author’s words, I find myself drawn to the concept that reality is odd, weird, peculiar, and problematic.

Seeming senseless suffering occurs daily throughout the globe: wars, famine, and violation of human rights. I do not want this post to turn into a philosophical treatise on the problem of evil. Please refer to the writings of St. Augustine or The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis for a clear and authoritative outline of the issue.

To be clear, although I experienced a push from reality toward despair when things get overwhelmed, it is interesting that fiction pulls me away from this strangeness and helps center myself.

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 Over the past year, I have delved into the DC Comics Universe- the realm of Superman, Batman, The Flash, and Green Lantern. I am most recently reading a voluminous story arc from the New 52 series on Superman.

Here are three ways that reading fiction will help provide stability in your life when reality is too strange.

Larger than Life, Yet Relatable Characters

Stories portray transformation and inner conflicts within characters. Superhero comics contain traditional character developments. They also add layers to the story through its main actors possessing enhanced powers. Instead of alienating the reader, I find I am drawn into a comic book through the device of the dual identity of a superhero—their superhero title and their secret identity.

life is locomotion the flash

 I will use Barry Allen/The Flash as an example because I loving running. The main power of this character revolves around speed and endurance.

Most versions have Barry’s desire to help others stemming from the death of his mother at a young age. Later endowed with super-speed and Speed-Force powers from a lightning in a laboratory, Barry soon dons the mantle of The Flash!

Despite his ability to nearly travel at the speed of light, Barry oftentimes has to slow down to solve both personal and professional problems. By reading these comics this superhero appeals to me because I sometimes tend to be impatient and act rashly at times.

Alleviation through Art

I am a visual learner. Illustrations bring me closer to the events of the comic book story. When I am reviewing books to check out from the library, one of the things I look for in a good comic is appealing artwork.

The Blackest Night Green Lantern story-line contained popping colors and heroes decked in hues highlighting their unique power rings. I felt like I dove into a verbal kaleidoscope in that crossover event. I cannot quite put my finger on it but something about the artwork of the New 52 DC Series soothes my anxiety. Without alleviation through art, I would return  an unread story back to the library as opposed to diving further into the comic book universe.

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 In a galaxy far, far away…there is no place like home

Along with the character development of DC’s superheroes [and even non-powered support characters] and the beautiful art, I have come to greatly enjoy the move to solar system based settings. Although strangeness abounds in the various planetary systems and alternative timelines, I get a sense of excitement and wonder instead of fear from my mind travels to exotic scenes!

The freshness is anchored by the stability of the characters in the DC universe. Despite reading a revisionist version of Superman, Batman, or other heroes, a certain familiarity and tradition still remains front and center.

Traveling on these journeys provide small interludes of rest from the weariness of reality. For instance, the phones were going of the hook at my job today. I encountered strange and perplexing questions I never dealt with before. During my break time, I become an observer of Superman’s battle against his archenemy—Brainiac. I returned to the real world energized to complete my day’s remaining work.

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 Is Truth Stranger than Fiction?

Pontius Pilate asked Jesus Christ a question that in an old as time but still fresh and relevant today, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Truth, reality, actuality is a perplexing thing to grasp. Humanity is not called to fully understand the mysteries of the universe yet creation is laden with hints at what the purpose of the real world is all about.

Fiction can help you find purpose in this life. Through fiction you gain a renewed and broader perspective when returning to the “real world”. I will leave you to ponder the wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien legendary creator of Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Referring to fantasy as a natural human activity he states,

I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?

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A Snow Story to Keep Spirits High

Grey skies. Blustery winds blow over the landscape. There is no one else in sight.

Friends? Brothers? Fellow soldiers in this fight?

All gone home 🏡.

Only you. And the enemy.

A cold 🥶 formidable. One whose tenacious tactics demoralize the ordinary.

But you are not an ordinary fighter. You are extraordinary 💪.

You are motivated by honor and duty. Duty to the city and fellow citizens.

You will not rest until the battle is won.

Progress is slow going. But inch by inch you gain traction.

Has it been 10 minutes or 10 hours? Certainly not 10 days you hope!

Victory is on the horizon. You are almost done. One last effort. There!

You’re done.

Sweat mixed with ice to form a salty slush on your face. 😓 You’re exhausted, but proud.

The driveway has been shoveled.

What did you think I was talking about?!

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