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Desire More

March 5th, 2010

March 5, 2010

 Last week I was watching the Olympics, when a commercial from the local NBC news channel came on. It featured a wheelchair racer, which immediately caught my eye, because I am one.  Hey, a wheelchair racer! I thought.  Then, upon closer inspection, I said, “Hey — THAT’S ME!”  The caption read, “Desire More.”

 The caption gave me pause. “Desire More?”  I never really thought about my life that way. It’s interesting; some people tell me, “Stacy, if I were in your position, I’d be depressed and in bed.  I couldn’t do it. I’d be hating life.”  But that is not how I choose to live my life. I guess I do desire more.  As a person with a disability, it would be so easy to complain, to let my circumstances dictate my life, and make excuses why I can’t do things. But what kind of life would that be?

 I noticed once that I am always the last person to leave an event, talking to every person, doing the very last activity. I told my dad once, “Dad, I feel bad; I feel like I suck the life out of everything I do.”

 He laughed and said, “No, Stacy, you get the most out of every opportunity.”

 So that “Desire More” description really hit me.  I guess you could look at it two ways:  You can “Desire More” by laying on the couch fantasizing about the life you want, or you can “Desire More” and actually go and make it happen!  I think “Desire More” means dream big and work hard. Don’t WISH for dreams; TAKE CHARGE of your dreams! Be a leader; YOU step up to the plate! Don’t wait for things to happen; YOU MAKE it happen!

 I want to make the most of my life. I could let my disability hinder me, but oddly enough, it has actually given me more opportunities to be competitive, meet people, travel, and make a difference than if I was able bodied.

 That is because I refuse to make excuses.  I make it a habit to write down my goals and put them on the bathroom mirror to see every day. I take advantage of opportunities that come my way. And I don’t give up no matter what. There always seems to be a way if you hang in long enough.

 I get the most out of life in several ways. First, I purposely put myself in circumstances where I am forced to grow. I desire to grow spiritually, so I signed up for a Bible study once a week where I have daily homework. It takes a ½ hour a day, I learn a lot, and I find when I am spiritually strong I have a strong backbone for life.

 Second, I force myself to be with people. Being single can be a challenge to meet people. Sometimes making small talk is a chore! And it is always easier to sit on the couch and watch TV. But I joined a singles group, and the more I return, the more I remember people’s names and enjoy their company.

 Third, I ask for help when I need it. There is no way I could have competed in wheelchair racing without my mom taking me to the track and helping me get into my racing chair. And without the help of numerous volunteers every May, the Ohio Wheelchair Games would not go on. I recently asked a friend of mine to help me stretch my legs, and now he helps me several times a week. Sometimes asking for help with your goals is tough, but it is key if you want to see progress. People are often more willing to help than we think!

 Finally, volunteering is an excellent way to make a difference and have amazing experiences. This year I will be a volunteer chaplain for my third Paralympic games in Vancouver.  I give a few weeks out of my life to minister to some phenomenal athletes with disabilities, and it has given me some great international friendships and fun travel opportunities as well. I’ve been to Greece in 2004, Italy in 2006, and now Vancouver in 2010.

 How about you? Are you stuck in a rut, or do you “Desire More?” If you do, what are you doing about it? Do you want to get in shape? Why don’t you sign up for a race, and force yourself to be ready by the deadline? How about intellectually? Was the last book you read for a college exam? Join a book club or a Bible study to give yourself a group to encourage you and be accountable to. How about socially? Are you resisting growing your circle of friends because of inconvenience and fear? I spent this Valentine’s Day with a group of people I barely knew, and at the end of the night, we were having a great time dancing! Finally, are you a volunteer? Tons of non-profits need volunteers every year, from behind the scenes technical expertise to a loving hand and heart for hurting people. You will come away blessed.  All it takes is for you to “Desire More.” And then stop dreaming and start doing!

A New Perspective on Resolutions

February 1st, 2010

Some people scoff at making resolutions, saying, “I hate to make resolutions; I break them the next week!” I say resolutions are an excellent way to start the New Year. Think of “resolution” as another word for “goal.” Having goals is a healthy way to live. What is life without something to live for and work toward? Goals give you a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to get off the couch, and a reason to live with purpose. Having an important goal gives you a reason to say “no” to trivial or even good things, because you have a greater “yes” burning inside you.

 A goal doesn’t have to be a goal just to DO something; make goals to BE something as well, such as a more involved parent, more loving spouse, a more productive worker, or a person of strong character. Make goals to balance your life. A healthy life has a balance of career, family, friends, recreation, intellectual growth, and spirituality.

 Start by setting one goal in each area today. Write them down and put them in a place you’ll see them every day, like the fridge, your wallet, or the bathroom mirror (that’s where mine are). You’ll have a daily reminder of new priorities that are worth your time and attention.

Positive thoughts for the New Year

January 1st, 2010

Happy New Year 2010 ! !

No matter what last year was like, now is the time for a fresh start. This year, hang these positive thoughts on your fridge to remember to trust God’s Word during tough times.  We have a choice to control our attitudes. I can be “down and out,” or I can “lift up my head and shout!”  This year, will you choose to believe these promises with me?

  • Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • Be bold and be strong! . . . For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
  • The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)
  •  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “. . .  plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

Trust God and believe His promises for a new and prosperous year. Here’s to a great 2010!

Hope in the Midst of Suffering

December 1st, 2009

Hope in the Midst of Suffering
by Stacy James, 1999

As a junior in college, I was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. In a split second, my world changed forever. I went from an extremely active college student to someone who would never do the things I once loved: run, dance, twirl the baton, and play piano and guitar. I had planned on being a missionary and serving God with my life. How could he let this happen to me?

I often would lay in my bed and cry, cry because I was trapped in a body I could no longer control, cry because I was alienated from friends, cry because the doctors were supposed to be able to fix this. I was angry at times when some doctors seemed so matter-of-fact about my situation, and embarrassed at the stares of other college students as I wheeled down the hall.

I had read in the Bible that God says once we come to know him, he will never leave us. Even though I lay there in despair, I knew there was hope because God loved me and still had a purpose for my life. It was my choice to believe that and let him go through this with me, or to be bitter and angry at him. I chose to follow him, even though my feelings didn’t necessarily agree at the time.

Often when bad things happen to us, we are tempted to doubt God’s love for us: “God, if you love me, you wouldn’t let me suffer like this.” I learned that we can’t let our situations determine God’s love for us. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). That is the one thing we must look at to determine God’s love. Not our blessings or absence of them.

I learned that love does not mean the absence of pain and problems. God often uses these very things to help us mature and grow. Life is and will continue to be difficult. I still experience complications from my accident, and I have had loved ones pass away. The nature of life is a mixture of good and bad. I am learning to accept that more and more the longer I live.

God also gives us the freedom to hurt and to cry. Not to express our feelings is to bottle up pain that will eventually release itself in possibly destructive ways. When we suffer, we need time to work through the loss or crisis, to express our grief in the right ways. We don’t have to put up a front, especially to God. He made us and knows exactly how we feel. I still take my questions and feelings to God in prayer, and to close friends when I need someone with skin on.

God also promises a future hope. The more I live with the problems of a spinal cord injury, the more I look forward to the day when I will walk again in heaven. He has created for us a place where there will be no more crying, pain, sickness or death.

To this day, I am not bitter about the circumstances of my life. I have seen the goodness of God, I have become a stronger person, and I would rather be in a wheelchair and know God than be a million-dollar professional athlete and spend an eternity apart from him.

 God can give you peace and comfort in your own life, too. Know that He is with you and will never leave you. Be honest with Him, and when you are tempted to doubt God’s love, remember that God’s love for us was shown by Jesus’ death on the cross for us. Choose to follow Him no matter what, and He will reward your faithfulness. And in due time, all wrongs will be righted and all tears will be wiped away. I’ll see you on the other side, my friend. Save a dance for me!

 ”I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Healing – When God Says “No”

October 5th, 2009

Healing – When God Says “No”

By Stacy James, 1994

 “Stacy, have you ever asked God for a miracle – to completely heal you?” a man asked me once. Yes, I have asked God for a miracle. In fact, I have been prayed for by quite a few “faith healers” over the years, yet my condition remains the same. It is sometimes hard to hear about people who were healed of chronic pain, certain physical infirmities, etc. One man told me how his legs were in excruciating pain, and he asked God to heal his pain and instantly it was gone. He called it a “faith healing.”

“But I have lots of faith, too!” I wanted to say, “And my legs are in plenty of pain!” It made me wonder, What makes him so special? Why doesn’t God completely heal me? and How could I appeal to God for a special healing like that?  

As I go along in life without instantly healing, I am growing in other ways. There are three kinds of physical healing: instantaneous, medical, with the help of doctors (also gradual, which most of my healing was), and healing in the hereafter, or in heaven. Then there is a more important kind of healing — emotional and spiritual, which is where I have seen the biggest growth.

The more important prayer (than healing) is for God’s will. I want to be healed, but does God want me to be healed? He has allowed this for a reason, and has some purpose behind it, something that I cannot see with my physical eyes. I have to shut my eyes and trust Him with eyes of faith. The more I have been growing in my relationship with Him, I am understanding that He is good, loving, and wise Father. He didn’t just drop us here on earth, but He has a plan, and desires all to come to know Him. In his wisdom, the ways He chooses to work in our lives are the best ways to accomplish His ultimate will. He is still good and loving, and may choose to work through a hardship that we may hate.

Trials come for many reasons:  to conform us to the image of Christ, to make us long for heaven, and to comfort those in like circumstances. They can also be used to draw people back to God. Everything works to bring Him the most glory.

In my situation, I personally have grown closer to God as I realize more and more that He is the only wonderful and changeless hope in a fallen world. As I go through my life with a physical disability, people see someone who has true hope and joy in the face of affliction, because that hope and joy comes from within, from a living God who lives in my heart, not from an external source. I have had the opportunity to speak to groups of Christians and non-Christians alike, encouraging, motivating, and leading them to the Lord.  

I have had more opportunities because I am not healed to give God glory that I ever would have living an able-bodied life. The problem is the battle between wills — our will and God’s will. For years I had my life planned out: Four years of college, get a job after graduation, get married, have two kids, live in a nice house, in a nice suburb, drive a mini-van. God has His plans: For the world to know His Son, and for Christians to grow closer to Him. Sometimes God wants to work in our lives differently than what we planned on. But He is still a good God, and what He does in our lives is the best and wisest way to accomplish His ends.

To bring it back to the question on healing, if I have the opportunity to give God more glory in the face of affliction, as terrible as it is, if I were God, would I even want to heal me? The closer I draw to my Savior, the more I want to accomplish His will, not really my own. My will is becoming His will, so whatever He wants to do, however He wants to use me, is fine with me.

I still ask God to heal those things that nobody can see — pain, other problems with my body (that I see no relevance to His will!). But if I can trust God with His will for my labored walking, He must have some purpose for the other things.  

One day I will be healed, that is certain. I will get a brand new body in heaven, a glorified body! As I see life through an eternal perspective — knowing that life on earth is relatively short compared to the billions and billions of years we will spend in eternity, I can handle the inconveniences of this life, knowing there will come a day they will be gone forever. And God will reward all the ways I trusted Him and gave Him glory.

I do believe that God can perform miracles, and of course we can always ask!    If God wants it to happen, it will happen–He definitely has the power to do it! But if it isn’t His will right now, we just need to trust and obey. He knows what he is doing much better than we do.

Copyright 1994, by Stacy James.

What Can’t Kill You

October 5th, 2009

 What Can’t Kill You

By Stacy James

June 3, 2001

 The rose that blooms the brightest

Is the bud that does prevail;

When the night, it seems the darkest,

And the storms are filled with hail.

 

Though the questions come in number

And the road, it seems so long

Every trial has a purpose –

What can’t kill you makes you strong.

 

Every challenge given to us

Is a choice to fight or flee;

It will build us or defeat us

But the choice is up to me.

 

Do not ask for lighter burdens,

Ask instead for shoulders strong;

A spine of steel, a heart of faith;

Patience means to suffer long.

 

So whatever card is dealt you

Keep your head up and press on;

It may bend you; it may break you;

What can’t kill you makes you strong. (Neitze)

I’m Pressing On

October 5th, 2009

I’m Pressing On

By Stacy James

 April 30, 2001

 

It happened when I was but young –

I didn’t even see it come

My life was changed, the outlook dim

The only thing I had was Him

To fill my life, to make me whole;

To give me purpose, meaning, goals.

“I’m frightened, Lord, what will I do?”

I’ll take my fear and look to You

I’ll take my  life, my big dreams gone

And though I’m scared, I’m pressing on.

 

“This isn’t fun!  This isn’t right!”

I cried myself to sleep at night

Each morning saw a new disgrace

Something more for me to face.

One more thing with God to trust

One more way to find him Just.

Old dreams gone, new ones begun

And though I’m scared, I’m pressing on.

 

Now time has passed, I’ve seen Him bless

Adding to my happiness.

And courage doesn’t mean “no fear,”

Courage means I’m holding dear

God’s promise — to provide and be

My comfort and security.

I’ll wait, I’ll trust; I’m weak , you’re strong,

I’ll face my fears, I’m pressing on.

 

Lord come what may, I’ll look to You;

I’m not alone; You’ll see me through

We’ll overcome what life may bring

I’ll not complain, I’ll dream big dreams.

I’ll look ahead, my chin held tall

I’ll not be scared, we’ll brave it all.

With You, my help, to see me Strong,

I’ll face the storms.  I’M PRESSING ON.

 “But one thing I do;  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

    – Philippians 3:14-15

 “Never give up. Never, never give up. Never, never, never give up.”

    – Winston Churchill

Be All You Can Be

October 5th, 2009

Be All You Can Be

By Stacy James

June 20, 2003

 This life is too short to simply sit by

And watch it pass by right before your eyes

This life is too big, and you have a place in it

So don’t sit around and waste another minute

God created you special; He made you unique

And He wants you to be the best you can be

You may be an artist, an actor, a writer

You may hold the ladder for some to climb higher

Whatever your gift; whatever your dream

You were made for a purpose, so don’t just shine–beam!

Start having courage and do what you fear

Try out for that team or begin your career

Believe in yourself, no matter who doubts it

If your dream makes you smile, then do something about it!

And never give up, for it might not come easy

Nothing valuable or important comes cheaply

It takes dedication, it takes pressing on

But constantly doing what’s tough makes you strong

The ones who succeed are the ones who keep on

When others have quit ’cause the journey’s too long

For thirty five people said, “No, Stephen King”

But he kept on trying ‘til he published that thing

And Michael Jordan himself was cut from his team

And quite possibly he’d never be anything

So you yourself could be someone like them

If you give life your all and you never give in

And even if your dreams seem too small

They still are important to the Maker of All

So be the best YOU you can possibly be

To family and friends, to God and country

Don’t look back with shame, wishing you’d tried

To just give some more to that dream deep inside

For the worst pain of all, when you look back in life

Is a dream not fulfilled because you didn’t try

So give life your all; learn to love, learn to give

And you’ll be happy inside, for you truly have lived.

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

October 5th, 2009

Never Give Up On Your Dreams 

(William Tyndale Story)

By Stacy James

Written January 31, 2001

 (January 31, 2001. Dear Diary,) I have been so frustrated lately – burdened, overwhelmed; feeling defeated. I realized I’m tired of chasing my dreams only to feel like they keep slipping through my fingers. I want so much to become an inspirational speaker, write my book, write articles, and play my sports full-time  – as my full-time job, not at midnight and not squeezing them in wherever I can.  I want to have it as a full-time ministry, not working on it after my “real job,” so I can finally relax and have a life. 

As much as I try to relax, though, my dreams don’t die. I work harder and harder in the chase, because somewhere down deep I still believe that someday they’ll come true. Do you ever feel that way?

Well, just today I read that William Tyndale, who lived in the 1500′s, was also a fellow dreamer.  Tyndale had a burning desire to place the English Scripture into the hands of the common man.  (At the time it was in Latin, and only available to the popes – note: Stacy, check on this fact).  He once hotly replied to a fellow priest:  “If God spares my life, before many years pass I will make it possible for a boy behind a plow to know more Scripture than you do” (p.268, church history book).

Tyndale’s dream was not easy.  His undertaking was not welcome in England , where he lived, and he was forced to flee the Continent.  He did not give up, however.  He began to print the New Testament, and in 1526 began smuggling his first copies back into his homeland.

Tyndale continued his work, translating the Old Testament and revising the New, but church officials hounded him and put him in prison.  After seventeen months there, he was burned at the stake, praying, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

His death wasn’t the end of his dream, however.  During Tyndale’s imprisonment, another scholar, Miles Coverdale, had published a complete translation of the Bible.  It was basically Tyndale’s work, supplemented by Latin and German versions.  

A year after Tyndale’s death, yet another English translation appeared – a combination of both Tyndale’s and Coverdale’s work. This was called the “Great Bible,” and King Henry the 8th authorized it to be bought and read throughout the land.  Thus, Tyndale’s dying prayer–and dream–was answered.

I realize the more I live that great dreams and worthwhile feats do not come without hard work and often great sacrifice.  I sacrifice my time, my sleep, my money, and often close relationships to pursue the passions on my heart.   Others have given up even more than I have.  But the dreams do not die, and I am empowered by those who have gone before and have seen their dreams realized.  Thank you, William Tyndale, for your courage and unwavering spirit, so that I could read and know my favorite book, the Bible.

You may be a fellow dreamer.  No matter how big or how small, don’t give up!  Whether you want to change the world or simply some aspect of your life, no dream or goal is insignificant if the Lord God put it on your heart.  God has a special purpose for you that no one else can carry out in the unique way that you can. Keep dreaming, keep striving, my friend, and someday the world may be different because of you. Maybe my dreams aren’t slipping so much after all.

 Postscript:

On June 28, 2004, Stacy James started her own inspirational company and became a full-time speaker, author, and athlete.

Keys to Victorious Living

October 5th, 2009

Keys to Victorious Living

By Stacy James

 ”Stacy, when I first met you, you gave me a big smile. I knew then that I had to get to know you.” 

People are often taken off-guard when I smile at them from my wheelchair. A smile is often the last thing they expect. They probably expect depression, anger, sadness–and there was a time I felt those. However, I have found that true joy, purpose and meaning in life comes from a relationship with God and finding my significance in Him. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” Abundant life is not physical, it is spiritual, and as I develop my walk with God, I am able to trust Him more, be at peace with my life, and smile at the future.   These seven keys to victorious living are ways I practically “walk” with God. The more I live these out in my daily life, the more joy I have.  My prayer is that they help you walk with God, and walk victoriously through life. Remember: Walking victoriously through life has nothing to do with legs.

1. Praise and Worship

It is so easy to be focused on myself and my daily hassles. But praise and worship gets my focus right. Worship gives us the opportunity to lay our junk at the altar and express our adoration to the Lord. When we praise God, we lift our focus off the concerns of daily life and onto the holiness of God. Praise lifts our hearts because it shifts our attention from our need to the Source of our supply; from our problems to the Problem Solver. Worship is occupying our soul with God himself.  As we fix our eyes on Jesus, everything else pales in comparison.  

We often think of praise as the songs we sing in the beginning of church, but it can also be just reading a Psalm to God. I also love to play a praise tape in my quiet time or in my car from time to time. It is hard to get angry at the traffic if you’re praising God while you drive!

* How can you incorporate praise and worship into your life?

2. Prayer

From the moment I was in the hospital, people have poured out their hearts to God for my recovery. I believe that is why my attitude has been so good, and why I have healed beyond the doctor’s expectations. I often have to trust God for my needs, and I have seen him provide a home for me to live in, an adapted van for me to drive, as well as people to help stretch my legs,  roommates during the summer, and lots of other ways. Instead of worrying, I am learning to give my cares over to the One who can do something about them. When I see answers, they are often even better than what I prayed for, and I realize that God cares about even the little things. He tells us not to worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present our requests to God. And the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7). 

My guess is that He wants to bless you, too–won’t you let Him?

* Where in your day can you squeeze in a few moments to talk to your Father?

3. Bible Study/Devotional Time

If you are like me, your mind is crammed with a to-do list when the alarm goes off in the morning. The last thing I have time for is to sit and read my Bible! Yet nothing could be more important. I actually have to make time to do it. And as I read my Bible before the day starts, my mind is lifted to the truly important things in life. 

I have shifted my focus as well–from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I am reading the Bible to fall in love with the Author, to get to know Him, and let Him comfort me, teach me, train me, correct me, and guide me in righteous living. It is God’s love letter to us, and our guidebook for life. No book speaks to the heart like the Bible.   The joy of discovering new truths in the Bible sometimes makes my whole day. 

I also keep a devotional by my bed, so it is the last thing on my mind at night.

* Can you start to spend 15 minutes with God in the morning or at night?
* Is there a Bible study group at your school or church you could participate in?

4. Trials

Trials may seem like a strange way to experience joy, but God says that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The trials I have gone through have shaped my character, made me value my family, grow in my faith, and have made me able to reach out to other handicapped people. I have become a better person, and I am grateful for my experiences. 

I have also learned that trials are a part of life, and will come in small and great increments. The important thing is how we handle them.  If we face trials without God, we will be miserable. But if we trust God, remember that He is always with us, and persevere with faith, we win, whether or not we win the trial. Although we hate tough times, when we get through them they develop our character and make us stronger people. God often uses trials to make us into the people He wants us to be, and to realize how great our need for the Savior.

* How can you let trials make you more like Christ?

5. Witnessing

God has given us the incredible privilege of telling others about Him.   Unfortunately, I let people intimidate me! I honestly assume they won’t want to hear. However, every now and then God puts someone in my path who is searching, and I get the awesome experience of leading them to Christ. 

My new perspective is to see people as lost. I imagine them with a little sign that says, “I have an empty soul. Please help me!” 

Everyone is searching for answers and meaning in life. They are just looking in the wrong places. Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. People search for meaning in wealth, status, image, relationships, drugs, and alcohol, but often those who get stone drunk on the weekends leave the party feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Then there are the achievers who get straight A’s, are involved in all kinds of activities and sports, and may even be class presidents. I was one of those, always trying to be the best at something, because when I was the best, I’d be fulfilled. But a person can never be full enough of worldly desires–they never completely satisfy. Only Jesus can do that.

Invite your friends to youth group, to church, tell them how they, too, can know God personally and go to heaven. I came to Christ because a girl in high school invited me to her youth group. There is no greater joy than leading someone to the Lord. The world is full of emptiness — show them something that works. 

“I have an empty soul. Please help me!”

* Who can you start to pray for and share the gospel with?

6. Service

The happiest people in life are those who serve other people. We have been blessed to be a blessing. Jesus saved us so that me might do the good works He planned before for us before we even knew Him. We are often more than able to help others. We can use our finances to feed starving children, we could serve in a food kitchen or help in our church’s food pantry. We could help build homes for the homeless through Habitat for Humanity, or join a mission trip in the US or overseas. My church also holds programs in nursing homes over the holidays. You could lead a Bible study, help somewhere “behind-the-scenes,” rake the yard of an elderly neighbor, bring flowers to a hurting person, jot an encouraging note to a friend. I, personally, lead a Bible Study for handicapped people, and it is the highlight of my week. And you don’t have to have the Christian life mastered to help others: God is more interested in your availability than your ability.

When we serve others, it often has a greater impact on us those we serve! After helping someone, I always leave with a feeling of thankfulness for my own blessings, and have an inner joy that comes from touching someone else’s life. 

Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.

* Where is one area God could use you to be a blessing to others?

7. Thanksgiving

Did you know that giving thanks is the one thing in the Bible that specifically says is God’s will for you? That’s right! Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:18. 

I used to go to bed and think of everything I did wrong that day and dwell on it. Then I started keeping a “Thankfulness Journal,” a small daily calendar I keep beside my bed. At the end of every day, I write down a few things I am thankful for. This has transformed my life. It has taught me to look on the positive side, learn from my mistakes, and be thankful in (almost!) everything. I have found that God blesses us in so many ways — we just need to pause and realize it! 

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you . . . ” (1 Thess. 5:18).

* Could you start keeping a “Thankfulness Journal,” too?

8. Eternal Perspective

The final, and probably most important part of victorious living, is to never forget that earth is our temporary home. God has created an incredible heaven for us to be with Him someday, where there will be no more tears, sorrow, crying, or pain, where every disease and sickness will be healed (I will walk again!), and where we will forever share in His happiness. We will be rewarded for faithful service in this life (esp. for those things only God can see!), and all the trials, all the prayers, all the living will be worth it. 

Imagine eternity as a line that goes forever in both directions. Our life on earth is but a dot on that line, or a mere weekend in all eternity. If we have lived for the dot, how sad; but if we live for the line. . .What a joy to meet Jesus and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant. . . Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:23)

* How can you keep your focus heavenward?
* Are you living for the dot, or for the line?

©  Stacy James