How do you typically end your year?
Do you have family traditions or regular habits to look back and acknowledge all you’ve experienced and the ways you’ve grown? Do you celebrate what God has done?
I always have really great intentions of having a meaningful reflection time on New Year’s Eve, but in all honesty — it rarely happens.
Some years it’s because the kids were cranky and we all went to bed early; other years we were too busy playing games and laughing with friends. Some years it was simply because I didn’t have the energy to lead the initiative.
However, what I’ve started doing in lieu of a good New Year’s Eve heart-to-heart is giving my kids the week after Christmas, before New Year’s Eve, to reflect. Yes, with young kids, this is a skill that needs to be developed. I might include small bribes to entice them to finish, if needed!
The Importance of Looking Back
In the always-busy, noisy culture in which we live, taking time to reflect on our lives, ourselves, and all that is happening around us is a very important habit to develop. Slowing down offers us an opportunity to recognize what we may have been moving too fast to notice. The end of the year is a great time to do this, though if it’s the only time, we will forget much of what is worth remembering.
If you’ve already received your Faithful Life Planner for 2018, you’ll notice that in addition to the beginning and end of the year, purposeful pauses are built into your daily, weekly, and monthly planning. We want to be aware of places we’ve become busy but not purposeful — or on the flip side, where we’ve fallen into complacency or become aimless. But we also want to recognize the beauty and blessing around us.
Seeing begins with noticing, and noticing starts with slowing. So we slow down to notice the ways God is working, the answers He’s giving, the paths along which He is leading. We slow down to remember, to savor, and to give thanks.
One way we regularly remember is through our Christmas cards. Every year our family gathers the Christmas cards we’ve received and bundle them together to keep for next year, and every.single.year my daughter’s favorite part of decorating for Christmas is pulling out the Christmas cards from years past, and looking through all of the notes, pictures, and cards. She’ll spend the whole day thumbing through the collections of cards! Remembering friends and family and the highlights of their years brings so much joy and fond memories. So that’s what we’ve begun to do with our End-of-year Look Backs.
I created a reflection sheet for all of us to use and share together. (Grab your copy here.)
We so enjoy sharing what we’ve written on our “look-backs” but I anticipate that one of the greater joys will be keeping them and treasuring them year after year.
How we use our “Look-Backs”
We keep it very simple (aka :: doable). Here’s how we do it.
- I print off a Yearly Look-Back for every member of the family.
- I give everyone about a week to fill out their look-back. (A week allows us slow processors time to mull over the questions and challenges our busy bees to make time to write down their thoughts.
- Some of my kids need the deal sweetened a little to fully participate. For example, I take one of my boys out for a mommy & me date, and we go through the questions together.
- I collect all of the look-backs, celebrating every one turned in to me.
- We set a time to read and share! Sometimes this is on New Year’s Eve and sometimes it’s around the breakfast table or at bedtime. I’m a firm believer in doing what works best for your family.
- Want to make it more fun? Video the answers!! Another option is to randomly read the answers to each question and see if the rest of the family can guess who wrote it! You just might be surprised by everyone’s responses; plus the game might open up deeper conversation while giving you all a little more insight into the hearts and thoughts of one another.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
– Psalm 145:4-6
How do you remember & celebrate your family’s year?
Erika // FaithfulMoms.org
ps :: if you’re looking for a way to regularly remember what God has done and build into your days time to listen to His voice and linger in His presence, consider grabbing your copy of the brand-new Faithful Life Planner. We believe God will use this tool in deep ways in the lives of women in the coming year.