How does your family prepare for the transition from one year to the next?
One of my favorite traditions is to gather our family and recall how God has shaped our lives during the past 12 months. During this hallowed time, we discuss where we’ve been, share our hopes and dreams, and prayerfully consider where God may be leading our family in the year to come!
Just as our parents taught us and their parents taught them, we take the following Scripture to heart:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. – Deuteronomy 4:9
These times of reflection are extremely important because they spiritually strengthen our families and help us draw close to one another. Providing personal testimonies reminds everyone – especially our children and teens – just how much God loves them and how actively involved He is in our lives. When we share how God has worked in us, through us, and around us during the past year, our faith is revitalized and renewed. Often, we find ourselves praying more, reading our Bibles more frequently, and worshiping God more passionately because God has become more real to us!
To begin this process, each family member schedules some quiet time to reflect on how God is working in their lives. Some of the things we think about include:
- What lessons did God teach me during the past year?
- What opportunities did God present me with? How did I respond?
- What blessings did God bestow upon me? If so, did I thank God and bless others as well?
- Did I experience any losses? If so, how have these experiences impacted me?
- Is there any unfinished business I need to resolve with God or others?
After everyone has prepared their responses, we gather, pray and discuss the things that the Lord has placed on our hearts:
- Share thoughts and reflections on the current year.
- Encourage and pray with one another.
- Brainstorm and help each other move forward in areas where they are stuck.
- Identify areas where closure, resolution, and forgiveness are needed.
- Discuss our ideas, plans, and aspirations for the New Year!
At times we may feel vulnerable, but we trust that the Lord will direct our conversations wherever they need to go:
For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20
Finally, to spiritually strengthen ourselves in the New Year, we compile a list of scriptures that we want our family to memorize, meditate upon, and focus upon in our daily lives. We look for Bible verses that we want to become so deeply embedded in our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits that whenever our kids hear something at school or we find ourselves in a situation at work that runs counter to biblical truth, these Bible verses immediately spring to mind and give us the fortitude we need to stand in the truth of God’s Word.
For example, one of the lessons we’ve learned from the past is that often, we enter the New Year full of lofty goals, plans, and resolutions, and then become discouraged when our plans don’t go the way we thought they should go. This year, as we prepare for the year to come, we’re leaving the outcomes in God’s mighty hand and reminding ourselves that God is sovereign – He is in control of our lives – and He always has the best interests of His children at heart:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. – Proverbs 16:9
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
To begin the New Year on an inspirational high, I’ve been looking for the perfect devotional that the entire family can enjoy. I am delighted to recommend an empowering book entitled A Higher Calling: Claiming God’s Best for Your Life by a fresh young writer named Dana Isaiah Thomas.
A Higher Calling takes an honest and practical look at growing your faith. This book is packed with 31 “mini-chapters” of devotional messages on issues such as embracing confidence and trust while letting go of fears and doubts plus special features such as journaling space after each devotion, scripture from the New International Version (NIV) translation, a discussion guide for individual or group use, and a Scripture index.
This devotional is perfect for young adults (age 13 and up) who want to let the ups and downs of life bring them closer to Christ – but the exciting news is that parents will find it inspirational too!
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How does your family transition from one year to the next? Do you find it helpful to reflect on the events and lessons from the past year before moving forward into the New Year? If you had to select just one Bible verse to meditate upon for the upcoming year, what verse would it be? Please inspire us with your thoughts in the comments – we would love to hear from you!
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