I don't remember how long ago it was when I first was introduced to the idea of a blessing jar, but I never forgot the idea. Starting January first, you write down one blessing from that day and place it inside a jar. On December 31st you pull them all out and read them. This was such a wonderful idea but it would take me a couple of years before I decided to implement it and this was the year. Maybe it was because 2020 has been a rough year for so many of us, myself included. A year cloaked with such heaviness and uncertainty.
Personally I felt that in many ways I had lost sight of what was important, of who was in control and allowed my heart to become anxious. The idea of the blessing jar came back to me and as I looked ahead to 2021, I thought it would be a wonderful way to help me renew my mind and shift my focus back to Who is really in control.
God doesn't want us to live in a state of anxiety nor does He want us to focus on the maybes, what ifs, and clouds. We were meant to look to Him, to trust in Him and remember that He is always good.
The idea behind the jar was to make us think, to purposefully choose to look for something good each day. Paul tells the Philippian believers:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8"
When we dwell on the what ifs that means we are not thinking of what is true or even lovely. I know that it is easy to do, trust me, I falter here so often. The blessing jar is a beautiful tool that can help each of us to shift our focus on what is worthy of our thoughts. You know it is easy to see the bad, it requires very little energy since it is visible everywhere we go, but how healthy is it to focus on the bad? Do you know that it actually takes work to see the good, but it is worth it. God is a good God, there is no evil or malice in Him, all His actions are good and that means that every day there is something to be grateful for.
If we make it a practice to look for something to be grateful the result will be a heart that is filled with praise. When we spend the time looking for the blessings, we will find them and be reminded just how amazing and good our God is to us every day. I know that 2020 has been a rough year, but in some ways I wish I would have done the blessing jar last year so that at the end of this interesting year I could have looked back and seen all the good that still took place because it was there. 2021 may still be a tough year, filled with uncertainty over the future, but the goodness of my God is one thing that I can bank on.
As I prepared to do the blessing jar challenge I knew I wanted a special jar, but hadn't started looking for it just yet. I attended a staff Christmas party where we had a gift exchange and low and behold one of the gifts was a beautiful glass jar with a lid that had the word "blessed" carved on top. I knew that it was the jar I had been looking for but one of my co-workers received it instead. Of course, as many of you know, there is a little rule that says you can steal a gift, but I may have bent that rule slightly seeing that it wasn't exactly my turn to steal. I mentioned what I was planning on doing for the upcoming year and my co-worker graciously swapped gifts with me. While it was a funny exchange (my co-worker did enjoy the warm scarf she received for the jar) I couldn't help but smile at the thought of God's care about little things. He knew my desire for a special jar and had one of my co-workers purchase the perfect one, a gift they thought was insignificant held great meaning to me.
Will you join me?
What about you? Are you interested in joining me on this year of blessings? I promise that there is a blessing to be had if we just take the time to look for them. We will never go wrong when we focus on the positive and take note of just how good our God is to us every day. In a world that tends to see the worst, let's be a light that shines into the darkness and remind people that God is good and loves them with an everlasting love.
When we think of the Christmas story our mind tends to go to the stable where lowly shepherds greeted the newborn king, and when we think about the women of Christmas, Elizabeth and Mary are at the forefront. There is, however, another woman who is part of the story, yet she often gets lost (which is understandable since she has only three verses). Though they are small verses, the truths tucked inside them are big. The woman’s name was Anna: a prophetess, a daughter of the tribe of Asher, and a woman over 84 years of age. She only enjoyed seven years of marriage before suffering the loss of her husband, and she was left without children. When many would lose themselves in grief, she turned to God and devoted her life to His service. Anna is a woman who can teach us many things about what is truly important and about where our focus should lie.
A Woman of Perception
Her first lesson to us is that she was a woman of perception. She came upon the scene where Simeon was giving his prophecy of the young child and immediately recognized the significance. How did she know and agree that this was Jesus, the Son of God? What gave her the boldness to approach this little group with such certainty? I believe it is due to the fact that she had spent her life in the presence of God, and when He came in the flesh she knew. Anna was a woman who had given herself to understand the spiritual; all those decades lived in the temple prepared her for this one amazing moment. She was a woman who fasted and prayed both night and day. She was so in tune with God because it was her desire to be. How many of us can say that is our heart’s desire? So often we spend our life in the world, absorbing its philosophies and worldviews. We spend hours investing in things that are temporal and give only moments a day to spending time with God. How many of us would have missed Jesus had He come today? Would we have been sensitive to the Spirit’s leading? May we be like Anna and choose to spend time with our God that we may know Him.
A Woman of Devotion
Anna spent her life at the temple - it is what she lived for, and it was her reason for getting up in the morning. She would have agreed with the Psalmist when he said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). In fact she never left the Temple but, more than likely, lived in a little area within the walls. She eagerly greeted each day and looked forward to what it would bring as she served her God. How many of us live like that? How many of us have that kind of attitude? What is the first thing on our mind when we get up? Checking our phone? Social media? It is no wonder that many of us struggle to focus during our quiet time and still our hearts before God, because we have already cluttered it with the latest news or update. What would happen if we chose to rise and spend time in God's Word before doing anything else? I believe our minds would be ready to receive our Lord's message and more ready to act upon it if we did. We would quickly realize what truly mattered and be able to walk with greater clarity. May we be like Anna and wake up every day eager to seek the Lord's face first.
A Woman on a Mission
As soon as she had seen the young king and given thanks, she made it her mission to tell others. She wasted no time in passing along the wondrous news that the Messiah had come. She “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). She, who had spent her whole life at the temple waiting with great anticipation for the coming of the promised One, had now seen Him with her own eyes, and she had to immediately tell others. She knew the truth and could not hold it inside. Yet how many times have we not spoken? The world is looking for a savior; they are in dire need of a redeemer, yet we hold back. We readily speak to others about the weather, sports, and sometimes even politics, but we hesitate to bring up the eternal. What would happen if we spoke to others about the good news as often as we speak of our family, hobbies, or pets? How much more of an impact would we make if we cared about someone’s eternal soul? May we be like Anna and spread the good news of Jesus Christ with all who would listen and make an eternal difference.
Are You Willing To Be an Anna?
To be an Anna is not an easy thing because it means we must deny ourselves; however, we are selfish by nature. We would prefer to spend our time doing what we like and investing in what we want, but that is not the reason we were given a life. We were given a life so that we might make a difference in our world and in our sphere of influence. When we stand before our God on the day of judgement, will we be ashamed at the many hours we spent on things that didn’t matter and weep over all that was lost? The world is in desperate need of more Annas, of individuals who desire to know their God in such a way that every step, every thought, and every action is guided by Him.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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