Jan 01 2013

Focusing on “Blessing” in 2013

The idea of beginning 2013 as a widowed mom hit me very hard last night, on New Year’s Eve after putting our boys to bed.  The emotions filled my heart and mind and my heart broke all over again.  2012 coming to an end…the last year my Will was with me and us as our leader, my husband, father to our children, best friend, lover, mentor, confidante, hit me with great magnitude.  I could feel my body wracked with the pain of grief as the tears streamed from my eyes in a very ugly…and very healing cry as I cried out to God…as the moans of grief poured from my mouth~from my soul.

It was then that I felt led to go back and look at all of our pictures from 2012.  Looking at all of the memories in images on my computer screen filled me with a kaleidoscope of emotions as each image sat before me reminding me of how very, very blessed I was, we were in 2012.

In the months prior to Will going home to heaven and the boys and I surviving our tragic car accident on July 12, 2012…

We experienced great joy as a couple and as a family.

We experienced and lived through trials…but we did it together.

We grew in our faith as individuals and as a couple and shared them with each other.

We experienced laughter and giggles together.

We experienced ah ha moments and immediately shared them with each other.

We worked through challenges and thought through problems and found solutions…together.

We dealt with the challenges of raising our boys and figured out the best ways of leading them, teaching them, training them, disciplining and discipling them..together.

We celebrated amazing unexpected blessings together.

We shared grief of loss of friends and loved ones…together.

We prayed and worshiped…together.

We enjoyed God’s blessings…together.

On July 15, 2012…our lives turned upside down.  I was with Will as his life here ended and he left us to begin his new life in eternity with our Savior in heaven.  I was so very blessed to be able to say good-bye to this man who was such a gift to me from God.

As I went through the pictures and remembered the moments and reflected on the memories we made in 2012, I felt as if I was saying good-bye to him all over again.  God led me through the pain.  He led me through the questions.  He led me and carried me through all of it and continued healing my heart.

And then he led me to look at the pictures taken since July 15th.

He reminded me of the amazing people He has placed in our lives at just the right time.

The people who helped us at the scene of the accident and the blessing of being able to hug some of them and thank them in person again over Thanksgiving weekend.  (I will write more about this very soon!)

He reminded me of the amazing miraculous recoveries that I have made and our boys have made.

As I flipped through the images, he reminded me of the incredible people who have helped along each step of our journey and the new friends we have made.

He reminded me of our new church family who have embraced us so openly with such love and support!

He reminded me of the amazing decisions for Christ that our boys have made…Josh asking to receive baptism and being baptized on November 25, 2012 with some of the Pershings, our daughter Annie, and our church family present and the beautiful miracle of our youngest child, Michael, asking Jesus to come into His heart and life as His personal Savior and boss of his life on November 11, 2012.

He reminded me of the renewed passion in Annie for reaching out to others for Christ through work in missions in St. Louis with her mom and through Generation Next as she steps out of her comfort zone and reaches out to churches, groups, and even volunteers to go speak to groups and churches to ask for their help in reaching her goals for collecting hygiene supplies for girls in Africa so that they can be in school every week of every month and be blessed with love of Jesus in ways that will help them feel the love of Jesus and change their lives.

He reminded me of the new memories we have been creating as a family and our new passion for reaching the lost and reaching out and sharing God’s love in practical ways in our family, town, and around the world.

He reminded me how very, very blessed I am…now very blessed we are.

And he gave me the word “Blessing” and this Scripture passage for 2013…

16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.  Isaiah 43:16-20 NLT

I will write more about this passage in a future article…but know this.  Just as He did something new for His chosen people of Israel…bigger than He had ever done before…He gives us that same promise.

I decided that I didn’t want to forget one single moment of that “something new He is about to do” in OUR lives this year.

So our family made what I am calling “Blessing Journals”

Today, I sat down with the boys and we each decorated a journal that we will use to record the ways God blesses us each day and the ways we reach out and share His blessing with others.  Each of our journals look a little different…unique as we are each unique.

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

This is my Blessing Journal…I love collage and so it reflects my focus through words I found and letters I put together.  I am using a sketch book for my blessing journal and will fill it with journal entries, photographs, collages, art that records the blessings God gives me/us each day and the ways God calls and helps me/us reach out and bless others each day.

copyright 2012 Unwrapping His Grace

Josh working on his Blessing Journal.  He wanted to keep it simple and added two words representing what is important to him…God and Family.  He prefers to write thoughts in journal entries and sometimes draw pictures and share photos he will take of things that remind him of God’s blessings and how God helped him bless others each day.

Copyright 2012 — Unwrapping His Grace

This is Michael’s Blessing Journal.  He decorated it himself with me only helping with the title…he chose the stickers to make the title.  He chose the word family because his family is a big blessing to him.  He made a green package as a gift and the other stickers/pictures he chose represent the gifts he wants to save up to be able to help give to children in Africa (through Operation Christmas Child) and a toy he wants to save up for to give a child in need in our community for Christmas next year…these are HIS ideas.  He will draw pictures and tell me what to write to record his blessings each day and how he blessed others until he starts learning to write.

Here is what the inside of mine looks like to help you know how I set it up…

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

My life passage for 2013, Isaiah 43:16-20 NLT.

copyright 2012 — Unwrapping His Grace

The passage that guides our passion for blessing others in His Name, Matthew 25: 31-40.

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

Our family and my goals for Blessing others in His Name and how we will achieve them little by little in 2013.

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

Details on how and what I will record about how/when we bless others in His name on a daily basis.

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

How and when God blesses me/my family and how I will record it on a daily basis.

When I need to be reminded of how blessed we are, and next year, on New Year’s Eve, we will sit down and look and read through our Blessing Journals to remind ourselves of how God continues to grow and bless us and work through us…and is doing something new in and through us even now.

And here is something very special to know…while we were working on creating our journals today, Annie felt led by God to do something similar in her own way.  I hadn’t had a chance to talk with her yet about what we were doing.  And God once again led our family together.

Here is what she is doing to record God’s work in her life this year…

copyright 2012 — Unwrapping His Grace

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

Once she folds a strip of a paper and drop it in there with the date on the back, she will not look at it again until December 31, 2013.

Then she will read all of the strips with the date.

copyright 2012– Unwrapping His Grace

Then it shall be placed in her memory binder of 2013 with the other pictures and journal entries she made throughout the year.

For me, focusing on the word God has given me of “Blessing” for 2013 will help me to stay focused on Him, His work in my life on a daily basis and keep a thankful heart and find joy in each day…no matter what I am facing.  I don’t want to miss a thing or ever forget His love and His promise…

19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I hope these ideas encourage you to find a way to focus on how God continues to bless your family every day as you journey with my family as we focus on “Blessings” in 2013.

I would so love to hear your thoughts!  Please share your comments below!  I treasure each one as a gift and pray for each person who takes the time to share their thoughts and heart with me in this space…

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Unwrapping His Grace,

Mary Joy

Gathering with The Welcoming Home’s Wednesday Link-Up Party!

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/2013/01/01/focusing-on-the-blessings-in-2013/

  • Helen Tisdale

    Mary! As always, I am amazed at God in you & through you! What a beautiful idea for all of you! The children’s are beautiful! And such a discipline they will cherish! You are so implementing tools they will need in their spiritual walk! Yours is inspiring to me! I have been trying to do a little creativity in colored pens in my prayer journal! I just love stuff like that! It’s late & you won’t see this until tomorrow. This was refreshing to see. I just believe all of us are going to come out of the box this year & become what God wants us to be!

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing


      Wow! Thank you so much for your uplifting and encouraging comment! Thank you for your patience with me in responding. I am so glad that you were encouraged and inspired to get creative with your journal. I pray that the Lord ministers to your heart through your journaling this year. And I agree with you…I have a very powerful feeling that God is doing something amazing in 2013 if we open our hearts and lives to allow Him to work in us and through us.


      Mary Joy

  • http://www.facebook.com/cyndi.hickman.7 Cyndi Hickman

    Mary . You are an inspiration . I will be sharing some of your ideas with my family . I , too have started a ” Blessings Journal ” . I love what you have done with yours . Thank you for sharing your heart and baring your soul with all of us . May God bless you and yours today and every day .

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing


      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. Illness took over our house this past month and I am in the midst of catching up! But I wanted to thank you for your comment and say how excited I am for you and your Blessing Journal! How wonderful! I would love to hear some of the things you are doing with yours and am so glad you were blessed by what we are doing this year. It isn’t easy for me to bare my heart in words with everyone, but the Lord keeps leading me to be transparent in this area. He is so strong when we are weak and I pray He works through my brokenness to reach others.

      May God bless you and your family!

      Mary Joy

  • Gina Marie

    I love this idea — “Blessing” was my word for last year! PRAISE THE LORD! This year I have been called to Rejoice! :-D God is going to do a mighty work in 2013!

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Thanks, Gina! I really appreciate your comment! I didn’t know Blessing was your word last year. Wow. And am so excited about your word for this year. Wow! Rejoice! I can’t wait to watch what the Lord is doing in your life this year. Glory to Him!


      Mary Joy

  • Theresa

    Mary, this is a wonderful way to record His Faithfulness and blessings!! You are such an inspiration to me.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Oh sweet lady, thank you! I am so glad you found inspiration in this idea! God blessed me with it too. I am amazed at how it really does force me to stop and focus on what God is doing in our lives and renews the sense of awe instead of focusing on wondering what will happen in the future. God bless you and your precious family!!!


      Mary Joy

  • http://momstheword--livingforhim.blogspot.com/ Nan

    These are beautiful, Mary! Such great ideas and a way to keep your focus on the blessings of the Lord! Thanks for sharing. So glad you had some healing tears and that the Lord lovingly held you and reminded you of His blessings toward you! Love you!

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Thanks, Nan. I appreciate your encouragement. I am glad you like them. I am amazed at how creating pages and writing down how He is at work in our day to day lives really does make a huge difference in my outlook. This whole process is so healing. And I really needed that cry. Every time I take the time to do that it draws me closer to Him and more healing happens. God bless you and your family. You all are in my prayers. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I am so sorry it has taken me so long to respond. Illness hit our house hard this month and I am trying to catch up.


      Mary Joy

  • Mindy

    I love your idea of journaling through a new year. I love collage, and have been dreaming about doing something for my wall for the new year, so the journals were an inspiration. Our 2012 was very hard and your ability to look with joy to the new year after suffering so greatly is an inspiration and encouragement. May the Lord be your sustainer.

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      I am so sorry that 2012 was so hard for you and your family, Mindy. I know that is very difficult. I am so blessed that you stopped by and shared with me here in the comments! I hope the journals inspire you to do something special for yourself that will lift you up. I am so blessed that honored that my own story of working through the pain of grief and physical suffering and how much God is doing in our lives and hearts through this process is encouraging you. That is my greatest hope as I share our story. I pray that God will draw you closer to Him and fill you with His peace, joy and vision for each day and comfort you when it is hard.

      I am so glad that you commented. It means so much to me to hear your thoughts.


      Mary Joy

  • Heather

    absolutely beautiful. I see a new thing rising from the ashes of the suffering and trials you have gone through. Blessing was such a beautiful word to choose, and I know you will look back at the end of the year and see again how much the Lord moved in your life and the lives of your children as you healed and moved forward in the midst of it.
    Thanks for linking up.
    ~Heather @ The Welcoming House

    • http://www.surrenderedlivingnow.com/ Mary Joy Pershing

      Thank you so much for commenting, Heather, and for your very encouraging words! God has and continues to bless me more than I can every describe. I know what you mean about being able to look back at the end of this year to see how God has moved and worked in and transformed our lives and hearts through this process. I am so glad that you stopped by. You have encouraged me more than you know.

      God bless you and thank you for your gathering. I enjoyed being a part of it. I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. But I want you to know it meant a lot to me.


      Mary Joy

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