May 02, 2020 Posted by Lyndsay Waterman, Former Board member and Founder of Indiana Parkinson Foundation BlogGratefulness

The Blessing Jar

An attitude of gratitude was a quality that was instilled in me as a child. I’m grateful that my parents chose the “glass half full” approach and, as much as possible, would maintain a positive attitude through all of life’s ups and downs. While it didn’t always come easy, and I’m sure there were many times of grumbling and complaining, the overall theme was that we should be grateful for everything we had been given.

It’s one thing growing up in a home environment like this, but at some point, you find yourself on the other side…meaning that YOU, as a parent, are now the one responsible for teaching this quality to your children. Because of my faith, I felt a deep responsibility to instill this characteristic in my children-the ability to give thanks in EVERY circumstance, the good and the bad. I knew this was not going to be an easy thing to do-especially in a world where entitlement is rampant. Breaking that mindset would be a challenge, and something we would always be fighting against!

Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Always be joyful, never stop praying, be THANKFUL in ALL circumstances.” While I try to set this example simply by modeling the behavior in my home, several years ago I realized that we needed something more to drive this message deeper into the hearts of my children. I was noticing more and more complaining and overall attitudes of ungratefulness. Have you ever experienced this in your own home among your children or noticed yourself fall into these patterns? As I reflected on the verse in Thessalonians, I wanted a tangible way of recognizing our day to day blessings, the big and the small. “The Blessing Jar” made an appearance in our home about 5 years ago and has since become a permanent part of our kitchen countertop décor.

The jar, in and of itself is nothing special, but the contents are like gold. The turquoise jar has a tag hanging from it that reads “counting our blessings”. Inside, you will find little tags with our handwriting on them. They include answered prayers, stories of God’s faithfulness, acts of kindness, and most importantly, things in which we are thankful. During the year, these tags are collected in the jar. Some days, several get added. Other times, days go by without a single tag added. Yes, it is not a perfect system. Yes, we fail at times to see the blessings in front of us. Yes, things get busy and hard and we don’t always take the time to write something down. Regardless, on New Years’ Day, when we dump out the tags in the jar and take the time to read through each one, we realize how blessed we are and we give thanks to God.

Reminiscing on the many ways in which God showed up for us in the previous year is overwhelming…always bringing up a response of thankfulness among my family members. When you choose to focus on the positives, even in the midst of hardships, your whole attitude and perspective change. Sometimes, we have even forgotten about some of the moments we wrote about and reading them on New Years’ Day serves as a reminder of all the big and small blessings we received throughout the year.

Do we still have grumbling kids (and parents at times!)? Absolutely. Do our attitudes always reflect Jesus and our gratefulness for all He has blessed us with? No. We are all still learning to have an attitude of gratitude and to truly look for the positives in all circumstances. Our kitchen also has a sign that reads “Gratitude turns what we have into enough”. This promise, along with the blessing jar, are a constant reminder that being thankful isn’t just a “good thing to do”, but rather an essential part of our daily routine that can truly enrich our life! Create a blessing jar at your home and be blown away by what happens when you and your family start filling it with blessings. Not only will your jar quickly overflow, but your hearts will also overflow with thankfulness!

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