What Are You Thinking On?
My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.
My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.
I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.
It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]
I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)
Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.
I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper. It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.
Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.
That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:
- Of Good Repute
- Having or Striving for Excellence
- Worthy of Praise
Several years ago (actually, January 2013), I started making a Blessing Jar in preparation for the new year. It wasn’t even a jar, but I’m sure God didn’t take offense. I had an old Christmasy tin I liked that had originally houses Russel Stover caramel candy. So, it became my Blessing Jar for several years. There are several ways to work with a blessing jar, but the way a writer friend told me she did it appealed to me. 1) Write a short, focused list of blessings I’m believing God for and put it into the jar along with Scriptures that support those blessings and place them inside. As I searched the web looking for ideas on making Blessing Jars, I found that many people wrote down their prayers for other people and put them into the jar. So, I did both of those. I wrote down a list of 5-8 things I was believing for with supporting Scripture. That took up three pages. I folded it and put it into the tin. On smaller pieces of paper I wrote down individual prayers for people. I’d read through these several times during the year and continue adding prayers for people.
Then in 2016 I got creative and made a Mason Jar/Blessing Jar that I hand painted. I did all the same things. Wrote out three pages of blessings that I was believing for and also on smaller pieces of paper prayers for others. I added prayers throughout the year. Only my list had become a formal Prayer of Petition, involving thanksgiving, and seeking to ask for whatever vision, desires, and inklings I prayerfully believed God had put into my heart. That year I signed my Prayer of Petition and took communion at home over it.
The Christian movie War Room came out in the Fall of 2015. My dear Christian writer friend Beth Glash (writing as Jenna Victoria, Beth Ellen on Facebook) and I went to see it. From time-to-time during 2016, we talked about having a “war room” or space in our own homes. By 2017 my Blessing Jar had become my “war room.” I kept my formal Prayer of Petition in the Blessing Jar but prayers for people went up on the side of my refrigerator where I could see them every day and continually pray for people. The photo above is the beginning in January 2017. By the end of the year the refrigerator’s side was covered in prayers. I also wrote out . My war room.
As early as 2014, I began learning about Vision Boards, the Christian kind as taught by Terry Savelle Foy and a few others. I knew about Terry because it was in her father Jerry Savelle’s ministry that I found the clearest teaching on The Prayer of Petition. I had kept a spiritual journal since the late 1990s and it was not difficult get separators and make the back of my journaling notebook into a Vision Journal. I like the vision journal because it allows me to see that God is indeed moving in my life. For example, in 2014, I taped a few words onto my journal page that I found in a magazine, “Blessed With A New Car.” I kept the old car in excellent running condition and in 2017 was blessed with a newer car, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I blessed my oldest daughter by giving her my 2009 Dodge Journey. I believe God wants to bless us, but part of that is He wants to bless us so we can bless others. As you can see the pages (above) are worn, handled. I’ve looked at them many times and prayed for my vision, thanked God for my blessings, and marveled at how He works in my life.
So, which is the best? Blessing Jar? War Room or Space? Vision Board or Vision Journal? I heard it preached that Oral Roberts was once asked which is the best scriptural prayer to pray. He answered, “The one you need at the time.” That’s kind of how I view Blessing Jars, personal war rooms, and/or vision boards and vision journals. Do what work for you. Do, what you will stick with throughout the year and into future years. And let it spiritually evolve as the Lord leads.
I pray that all my subscribers and visitors to this blog will be mightily blessed by the Lord. May you have a healthy, happy, prosperous new year.