We are heading towards the season of Advent and preparing for Christmas, and as I ponder these times, I look at Advent calendars. These are big business these days. In our society, it seems that anticipation isn’t enough: the calendar where you simply open a door and count down the days seems boring!

The most common kind of Advent calendar (I think) is the chocolate one, but even these range from relatively cheap chocolates to luxury ones:

Then there are the speciality calendars, offering perfumes or alcoholic drinks:

Or the Advent calendars for pets:

I’m all for anticipation and preparing our hearts to make room for Jesus, but I think there’s perhaps a simpler way of doing this than succumbing to retail therapy. It’s called ‘counting your blessings.’ My Advent challenge is to make a list of all the ways God blesses you throughout the season of Advent. Write them down. All that’s required for this Advent challenge is a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and a thankful heart that will ponder God’s blessings. I can guarantee there are far more than 24 blessings to be found, so maybe you should start now!

‘I was blind, now I’m seeing in colour.
I was dead, now I’m living forever.
I had failed, but You were my Redeemer.
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure.

I was lost, now I’m found by the Father
I’ve been changed from a ruin to treasure
I’ve been given a hope and a future
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Surely every season You are good to me.

You were there in the valley of shadows
You were there in the depth of my sorrows
You’re my strength, my hope for tomorrow
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure.

Surely Your goodness pursues me
Surely Your heart is still for me
I will remember Your mercies all my days
Through every storm and gale.’ (‘Counting Every Blessing’, Rend Collective)