I chose this photograph of a Half-collared Kingfisher, as it seemed a great reflection of how I view this last year. Very blurry, very fast, little bit dark, yet, so much light and beauty if you choose to see it! I was disappointed not to snap him clearly, but on reflection, I was able to appreciate the beauty and the memory. Choice.
For about the last 5 years, I have set aside some time with pen, paper, and a cup of something, to reflect on the year gone by, whilst looking forward to the new year. This article, 10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year, written by Donald Whitney, has 10 simple questions to work through that help us focus on what is important, what needs to be improved, changed, planned, prayed for, and dreamed of. What is special about this list of questions is that we don’t do them on our own – we work our way through them, slow and steady, with the Lord.
There are 21 additional questions to work through, which help us consider how we live the lives that we have been gifted with. How will we use this precious time, how will we enjoy it, what legacy are we leaving behind?
A new year is always a time of resolutions and new goals, which is wonderful. But, when they are set with the wrong heart and without the Lords guidance, we often crash and burn all too soon!
Many of the goals I set I don’t fully achieve. But, having set myself on the right path and heading in the right direction, goes a long way towards me achieving my goals or at least growing, little by little. It is also wonderful to look back on previous years responses in my journal, and see how the Lord has worked in me, and even answered prayers. It is alright if we don’t meet our goals, but if we do not have ideals, then what are we living up to and working towards?
As I read through last years responses, there are so many things I did not achieve or live up to. I can choose the path of guilt, or I can choose to just keep pushing on, and look at all that I did achieve that I just didn’t happen to write down! Like quitting alcohol … I never saw that one coming!
One thing that I really did not achieve this year, that I had high hopes of, was celebrating the Christian calendar, especially Christmas. On reflection over the last week, I realised the reason I most likely didn’t succeed, was that I was trying to do it on my own, as well as the fact that I didn’t plan. There is a saying – fail to plan, plan to fail! I have been chatting to a dear friend who hit the same problem in some areas. The solution, we do it together – the planning, the dreaming, the sharing, even though it is across a vast ocean!
Just one beautiful thing, amongst so very many that God achieved, was:
12. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year? My response – ‘family/child’. He answered it when he sent Theo home to us.
When we have decided to live for the Lord, glorifying him in our thoughts, words and actions, Satan doesn’t like it. Is it any wonder that we face such battles, such resistance? He is prowling around like a lion, waiting to devour us. Stand firm, stand close to Christ with every step, gather together. Don’t walk alone!
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8
Around the same time that I work through these questions, I re-evaluate other areas of my life.
- Which friendships are healthy, which are not?
- What am I feeding myself? Music, podcasts, books, tv/movies etc
- Who do I need to follow/unfollow on social media?
- What rhythms in my day/week need changing?
I also have a mini spring clean in our home to try get rid of the excess, and I do this throughout the year. Often times there are some really practical steps we need to put in place to help us achieve our goals. A dedicated study area for example, a prayer/accountability group, childcare arrangements etc.
One big thing that helped me throughout last year was using a very basic and flexible weekly planner system to plan my days. I found this hugely beneficial in prioritising my time and getting the right things done, well, most of the time!
Sally Clarkson also has some great questions for us to ask ourselves each year, which I have saved to look back on. She has shared them on her podcast and her blog post titled, A New Year’s Tradition: Decluttering Your Soul! A New Start.
In 2022, whichever area might need change, growth or celebration, don’t attempt to do it alone. Do it with Jesus and someone He has placed in your path. If your path looks empty, prayer for a friend to come your way, it is amazing how He sends people our way. Often He has already sent them, so look around you, ask Him to open your eyes, and theirs. He has done this in my life in the most unsuspecting ways, with the most unsuspecting people.
Do you take time to re-evaluate the way you are living?
Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables