look back, look up, look on

In Uganda, for Christmas, most city dwellers head to the countryside where their families live. Once they arrive, families sit together and tell their stories; laughing, eating and celebrating. We heard about a Ugandan Christmas on our recent Faith in Parents podcast, "Christmas elsewhere." What struck me most was that families reflect on the past year and plan the next year - together. They aren’t remembering their country’s progress or their team’s season or their school’s achievements. They’re celebrating a year of their own family.

Parenting often feels like, “wake, eat, sleep, repeat”, so memories and traditions feel like gold dust. Create a special moment before you return to the routine in January. Light a candle or a fire. Make hot drinks or cold milkshakes. Offer cake or marshmallows. Download our one page “Look back, look up, look on” worksheet . Give the time to the Lord, out loud or in your heart, asking that he would use your efforts.

Reflect and give thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever. (Psalm 107:1)

Celebrations give us a reason to look backwards. Birthdays reflect another year of life. Anniversaries call to mind one particular day. New Year is an opportunity to look back as a whole family together. Remember the smiles after the great achievement - God gave the skills and gifts for that. Remember the wonder on the hill top - that view was our Creator’s work. Even when we remember tears or pain or loss, we can give thanks for God’s sustaining care and his loving plan. What stands out from the last year? Work through the birthdays, the holidays and the milestones. All of us are tempted, when recalling the last challenge, to repeatedly process our blame, regret and failure. Instead, we can use the opportunity to give thanks, learn and develop new skills.

Plan and pray

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)

New Year’s resolutions are our culture’s attempt at making a new year the start of a better future. Christians walk into our better future by trusting in the Lord. Look ahead together, and wonder how God will make your ways straight. What plans do you have? What milestones are coming? What holiday are you hoping for?

How could we look forward to more than just the year’s events? As Christians we can expect God to be up to something in our hearts and lives – and it’s always good! This year we can look forward to trusting the Lord, growing in our faith, understanding more of how God loves us. Where would you love to grow in your faith this year? Plan for that with the Lord.

Whatever changes might appear on the horizon, fear does not need to rule your family’s emotions. The Lord walks with us through uncertainty. As December turns into January, the dominating issue in your household may not disappear. What will it look like for your family to trust in the Lord through it? You cannot (and should not) plan each detail of the year, but you can look ahead with confidence, knowing that the Lord has every minute, for every member of your family, already in his diary.

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