Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Blessings Jar

I was driving in my car today and the song "At the Cross/Blood Ran Red" by Chris Tomlin came on.  It immediately made me think of this blessings jar process and the focus of why I do this every year.  Here are the lyrics:

There's a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There's a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I've ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I'm in awe of You
I'm in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus

There's a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I've ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down


Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

One of the themes of my blessings this year was definitely God's grace, His forgiveness, and His love.  I am so thankful for a God who loves me despite my failings (which often come through in these blessings).One of the reasons I started this project is because, by nature, I am a very selfish person and I tend toward being a realist on good days and a pessimist on bad days.  Several years ago, I decided one way to fix that was to focus on one blessing every day.  My realist/pessimist nature often shines through on cards that will read, "despite [insert negative life event], I [insert small blessing or change in focus]."  I could tell I was really trying this year to ground myself in something more positive on those bad days.  But other times, the card might simply read, "Thank you, Lord, for forgiveness," which tells me that I wasn't able to refocus my mind and chose to be selfish in some way instead, but I could still be blessed with God's forgiveness.

Sometimes my cards still tend to lean toward being more of a diary of the day.  This can frustrate me, because it doesn't really focus on blessings, but when I review the cards at the end of the year, the blessings show through in routines and themes.

Here are some of the themes from my blessings jar for 2015:
safe travel in bad weather
quiet days at home (it amazes me how often this is true.  Sometimes I forget that I am an introvert and need time alone.  This was really true this year, which seemed to be busier/more hectic than other years)
being able to serve at church
Scripture memory and review (Ginger and I have memorized 41 chapters!!! And looking back on last year, we ended the year with 14 chapters, so we memorized 27 chapters this year!)
texts of encouragement from friends
game nights with friends
time with family whether in person, by phone, or through text
weather--sunrises, sunsets, snow, rain, sunshine, cold, warm (glad to see I can enjoy all types of weather)
quiet evenings with Emily
good sermons/convicting sermons
blessings of renewed friendships
God's grace and faithfulness
one-on-one dinners with friends
"And Can It Be" made the list several times again (we even sang it in church on my birthday!)
exercise (this was a big theme the second half of the year as I began to focus on losing weight in July)
making my units at work (always a struggle for me, so it is always a blessing when I do my job well)
"Thank you, Lord, for the body of Christ!" (this came up several times as I spent time with various individuals and groups throughout the year and how God's love shines through in His ability to bring people from all walks of life into my life!)

The other thing I tried to be more intentional about on my cards this year was to write a short, "Thank you, Lord, for..." statement at the bottom.  This again, allowed me to focus more on the blessing even if I was recording more of a diary-like statement.  For example, if I wrote that I saw a movie with a friend, my statement might have been, "Thank you, Lord, for time to spend with friends."  A simple change, but it allowed me to focus more on the Lord and less on me.

Overall, I feel like looking back, 2015 was a hard year for me.  I can't really say why because nothing major happened that was negative.  I think I had many days of discontentment and trying to figure out the future.  This often created frustrations for me.  I also continue to struggle with selfishness and not being okay when things don't go my way.  I know this will always be a challenge for me, but I am trying to work on it and hope it will be a theme for 2016.

I'll leave you with this card from Jan 22, just because it made me laugh out loud:

It made me laugh, because I completely remember the Big Mac.  I have no idea why I was having a bad day, but I remember the decision of "Who cares.  I'm getting a Big Mac for lunch AND a LARGE Dr. Pepper."  And my coworkers who literally came over to smell my french fries.  Some days, you just need really unhealthy comfort food to make it through a bad day!

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