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by Mark Shields
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Turning dreams into reality and fulfilling God’s purpose for us in life is not easy. It was not easy for Jesus to fulfill His purpose here on earth. Some obstacles we face in life may include hardships, trouble, embarrassments, disadvantages, impediments, dilemmas, and predicaments. Sometimes it's hard to please people or hard to persuade people and it takes a lot of hard work to get things right. As we slide down the banister of life, we hope all the splinters will be pointed in the right direction. Hope and desire can act as a bridge builder to span the gulf of silence between a person's soul and the outer world. These qualities are available to everyone.

What pressures do you have? Is it something like meeting an impossible deadline? How do you deal with them? Sometimes a song can lift your spirits. In the Beatles song, “We Can Work It Out” the key word is we. With God and good people around you, no one can be against you and it’s going to work out.

You may have some major problem to overcome but you can be inspired from what nature or history teaches us. Did you know that a pearl forms from a piece of sand? It causes irritation or even pain to a clam but it then produces a coating around the sand and after a while the thing that once caused pain turns into what we know as a pearl. History teaches us that Winston Churchill also went through some irritation. When he was young, he had a speech impediment and took extensive speech therapy during childhood and as a young adult yet became a great communicator. He held England together during World War II. Teddy Roosevelt lost both his wife and mother on the same day in 1884 and on top of that, it was on Valentine’s Day. Yet he overcame his difficulties to eventually become governor of New York, great naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier, and our nation’s 26th president in 1901. Another lesson from history comes from a young boy whose dad went through some tough times. He had been wealthy but lost most of what he had. The boy wanted to attend a university but the family didn’t have enough money. He never blamed his dad and was satisfied to work in a shop. That boys name was William Shakespeare.

What can change your thinking and in turn your attitude and finally your behavior is God’s love for you. This love is an affirmation and you can internalize this love to give self-confidence, determination, and help when faced with difficulties. God’s love inspires us to hope by praying daily, asking Him to help plan step by step, and the initiative to take action.

I heard a story that took place in the 1930’s. Times were tough and there was a farmer who was in debt and had lost hope. He became so distraught that he killed himself and his wife. His two sons had tried to give him hope with an idea but this idea only became possible a few years later when they caught a break. You see, the laws of that time changed. Alcohol became legal and their idea now had a chance. The sons decided to read up on how to grow grapes in order to start a vineyard. With their two hundred acre farm and a little knowledge gained from books at the library, the two brothers overcame their adversity early in life. Today we know these brothers as Earnest and Julio Galo.

If you have a good idea about something, don’t let critiques snuff out enthusiasm. Keep pushing for ideas you believe in. In 1949, a man looked at his wallet to notice he didn’t have enough money to pay for his dinner at a restaurant. He had to get his wife to bail him out but this embarrassment spurred the idea for the first Credit card called the Diners' club. Don’t let fear hold you back or let distractions gobble up your time. Be like a farmer waiting patiently for his crop. Understand that it doesn’t happen overnight. Nature needs to play its part in helping the crops to grow. Learn to wait and as you wait, embrace God’s wonder like how plants grow, how things work, and how big His universe is. Experience life by living in God's spirit and truth with a passion for what you know your purpose is. Always be willing to recognize those around you that make you a better person.

Personal written statements, favorite inspirational videos, sermon notes, favorite Bible verses, and photos are affirmations; giving inspiration and patience. They provide positive material for your mind to act upon. Your mind is like a computer. If you give it good data to work with, it will process good information that will help with effectiveness and efficiency. Give the mind positives to process and produce qualities like enthusiasm, optimism, and initiative.

Without enthusiasm, a person lethargically walks through life in a constant bad mood, never looking forward to anything. The author and minister, Norman Peal once said, "There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment." Ask yourself the question, how might more enthusiasm change my day today? Show enthusiasm and others will be more open to your ideas. Express hope for the future and others will want to follow.

Enthusiasm positions a person's mind so that it functions on a higher plane. It lifts up a person to new heights similar to traveling in a hot air balloon and seeing things with a broader perspective. The human mind responds to stimuli, through which it may be "keyed up" to high rates of vibration, known as enthusiasm.

Fire is one of the most important forces in human history. Initiative like fire is a visible, tangible side effect of thoughts changing into action. Using the tool of affirmation is the spark or match that begins the process to fire up the mind. They act like a pre-game pep talk before you begin your work.

Personal written statements, favorite inspirational videos, sermon notes, favorite Bible verses, and photos are not the only types of affirmations. There are many types; numerical, visual, inspirational, verbal, and activity oriented. A while back, our church bought thousands of wrist bands to hand out to members to wear and be reminded to pray. The arm bands have the words “God is Big Enough”. They are also used as a tool to share faith. Many stories continue to be told of people going through difficulty and a member of our church giving their wrist band to them. It reminds people that someone is praying for them and that God can get them through the situation.

The Internet makes available videos, quotes, and pictures that can be used to help you formulate affirmations. One I came across recently is a scene from the movie “Rudy” when he was discouraged and ready to quit because he didn't make the team that suited up for the games. Rudy had always dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame but had to overcome many obstacles like size and talent. He convinces the coach to let him practice with the team with the hope of some day suiting up for a game and getting to run out on the field. You can do a web search for “Rudy and the Janitor” to watch the video.

As you make a Game Plan and write out the purpose for which God has given you, use the affirmation ideas mentioned above to help maintain determination but most of all be affirmed by God’s love for You!

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