Sunday, August 22, 2010

a Sunday blessing - true success...

got this fortune the other day...
It's a great idea, but got me thinking about what success means to me.
Success by the world's standard involves recognition and lots of sales.  
If success is selling much of my art then I have failed,
but if it is painting my heart out 
when I don't have the faith that the finished piece will be any good,
well then that defines success for me today.
and that is enough for me...

I also don't see how visualizing your success,
 or making one of those boards Oprah recommends, 
or throwing good vibes about yourself into the universe
will necessarily bring you what you want.  
It may, but I don't want you to plan that it will.
You are not a failure if it does not work.
Please don't judge yourself by what others think.
We live in a fallen world and times are tough.
Our etsy stores may not be selling,
but that does not necessarily mean 
we have done something wrong or we are a failure.

love the way Madeleine L'Engle puts it:
If the work comes to the artist and says,"Here I am, serve me," then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve.  The amount of the artist's talent is not what it is about.  

Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review,
"Listen to me.  All writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.  And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters is feeding the lake.  I don't matter.  The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake."

To feed the lake is to serve, to be a servant.  Servant is another unpopular word, a word we have derided by denigrating servants and service.  To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you're not fit for anything better or higher.

I have never served a work as it ought to be served; my little trickle adds hardly a drop of water to the lake, and yet it doesn't matter; there is no trickle too small...  The great artists, the rivers and tributaries, collaborate with the work, but for the most of us, it is our greatest privilege to be its servant.
Amen to that!

"...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant...
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve..."
Mat 20:26-28

So I plan to keep feeding the lake...
How about you?
What defines success for you?


  1. Oh Pamela, this is such a good post! :) Wonderful words & thought here!
    Success for me is...a smile given to me from a face in need, tears dropped onto my shoulder from another, tight hugs, mouths saying, "Yum, Hone (mom or grandma). This tastes so good!", a touched heart by a handmade gift I may have given, puppy dog a look of love saying, "thanks for the walk!", and in the end...God saying, "A job well done, my good and faithful servant." (Which is what I sure hope to hear...:))
    Have a joyous Sunday!
    Blessings to you,

  2. I really don't know what being a success is anymore. When I was working I was on boards and committees and it made me feel like a big cheese. But now my work is on a smaller scale - being a mom, cooking, baking, blogging. So I suppose if my family is doing well, I am a success.

    xo Erin

  3. Hi Pamela,
    Such a refreshing reminder! and Whew! so much is packed into that...when we start removing the layers.

    We always think that success is based on what we "do" and the result we can acheive. But as reminded by Jesus, what really matters is love...loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind and then loving our neighbors as ourselves.

    My prayer is...Lord show me the depth of your love for me, so that I can truly love others....for me, that is success.


  4. Pamela that was a really good post and for me it hit the nail on the head. As an "artist" I do crave recognition and because I live alone on a very small income, sales would be wonderful! But when they don't come I doubt myself and become downcast.
    I too have the DVDs and I watch them and for a few hours I am geared up and raring to go. Visualize? Geez I wish I had time to sit around and visualize my way to success.
    Oprah? I can't relate to someone who spends thousands of dollars on bed linens...sorry ladies.
    Patience is the thing I am trying to learn, to let go of my expectations and try to see God's plan for my art. Some days it is hard to sit quietly and wait on the Lord and some days it is easy.
    In the end I remember my favorite phrase "not for me the furrowed brow" and try to keep moving forward!
    Take care....
    Tina xo

  5. i have been (am always, it seems) praying about true, pure focus and purpose for doing the art. it is so easy to get lost in our cultural definitions/expectations/standards, and it happens so quickly. well, today God gave me answers that basically all boiled down to be-ing who i am meant to be (worshipper with creative talents), as a spiritual act of service. so your post, knowing what the HOly SPirit imparted to me this morning, is just a huge confirmation for me. thank you for putting this out there!

  6. Pam, your posts are truly delicious. It feels like we are sitting on your porch or deck sipping through a straw ;-) I love that, I can always feel a breeze and we don't have to TALK allll the time, we can just BE. Success is a strange word to me right now - I am exploring this artful, blogging, creating avenue but in the end am searching for a way to Glorify him through it all.

  7. Thank You Pam, such a beautiful post ... Gensis 2:18 has been on my heart lately as GOD designed WOMAN to be the HELP ... I am successful if I allow myself to be the HELP HE designed me (women) to be ...our original purpose as GOD blessed man with woman we are therefore blessed because we are the BLESSING and the blessing needs no other help except from HIM.

  8. Wow you guys are inspiring me sooo much today!!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will reread these brilliant epiphanies over and over again!

  9. Your post was meant for me to read today, as it actually echoed another wonderful "post" I heard at church service this morning!!! Not that God is shouting in my ear or anything :D (... but coincidently, today's lesson was on "defining success"--- amazing!!)
    I have always thought of "success" as the way a person lives their life, loving and serving others. Your words illustrated this beautifully.

    I've too have been waiting on God, trying to see His plan for my art, trying to listen to His voice, while wondering what direction He'll take me-- and today I am even more reassured that it will be "all for good".

    thanks for your thoughtful words of inspiration!

  10. Wow, did I not find you until now? What a lovely post. We have all been uniquely created by God to share our gift/talent...the unique purpose He has given. What we are gifted at is needed. It is our part of the body of Christ. And to be and do our gift is success. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His masterpiece created in Christ for good works prepared long ago to be our way of life...

    I was so blessed by the comments on this post too! I'm glad I found you, Pamela. I will be back!

    love * grace,

  11. I needed that! Lovely reflections. Keep writing and I will keep reading! Your quotes are lovely. I like the idea of the lake. I think I will need to read this many many more times!

  12. I think you hit it right on Pamela! A friend recently gave me this quote:

    Those words helped me so much and put things in better perspective for me. I blogged and art journaled about it here if you wanna see:

    Whenever I see your art, it brings beauty to my world. And so does your heart! Thank you Pamela!

    Lee Ann

  13. In England we have a radio programme called Thought For The Day. Someone inspiring gives a little talk reminding us all to lift our eyes of faith and get back on track.
    You have done that for me today - I was glum and wallowing and you've served me a plate of 'food for thought'. Thank you. Claire x

  14. Pamela, How do you come up with these brilliant posts? Always original yet so universal. You are a wonderful writer as well as amazing artist.

  15. I had missed seeing your blog for a long found it again....and it is an AWESOME BLESSING to! Thanks for all of your everything....especially....Jesus!