I love the New Year! There is something about a fresh start, a new beginning and a time to reflect back on the past year and look ahead to what the new year may bring. Every year, my husband, my two daughters and I have a tradition where we go to a coffee shop on New Year’s Day and spend some time reflecting and looking ahead.

Our lives are busy, as most peoples are, and we want to be intentional to make sure we don’t miss it. We have found that setting aside some time for reflection allows us to pause and take a moment to see where we have been and where we are going. Through this time we look at all that has happened in the last year (good and bad) and how God has worked in our lives in each of those moments.

If you’re like me, you can get to the end of the year and wonder, “what did we do this year? I can’t even seem to remember what I did yesterday!” It’s pretty normal to get to the end of the year and feel like not much happened. I know that is exactly how my kids felt about 2020. To them it seemed as if the whole year was a bust and we did nothing. But upon some reflection and looking back, we realized that we had still managed to make tons of great memories through walks in nature, some camping trips, game and movie nights and so many other blessings (like getting a new house!). What helps me remember, is to look back through my pictures and go month by month in my calendar to jog my memory.

Whenever we take the time to recount the past year, my family ends up having fun remembering the places we went, the milestones and accomplishments that happened, the holidays we celebrated and the new friends we made in the year. Even in years when there have been times of grief and stress and difficulty, remembering the ways God faithfully brought us through it and the rich blessings in between brings us peace and hope moving into the new year.

Reflection can be vulnerable and difficult work but it is so worth it. Often we are afraid to stop long enough to reflect, because we don’t want to be faced with all the things we wish we would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. Maybe you are ashamed that you didn’t do any of the things you set out to do last January 1st. Or maybe this past year just didn’t turn out like you had hoped it would. Please don’t let these things keep you from this intentional and important work. Only by looking back to see where you have come from can you then take all that you experienced and learned and begin to look ahead.

Allow this to be a time that you invite your compassionate and merciful Heavenly Father into the process. He longs for you to have a full and abundant life. The only way we can truly have this type of life is through following Him. He is our source of life and the only way toward the abundant life He has for us.

As we wrap up 2021, I would encourage you to take some time either by yourself or with friends or family members to look back at this past year. Here are some questions that my family goes through each year, that you are welcome to use as well:

  • What were a few of our favorite moments of last year?
  • What can we celebrate about last year? (a new job, a new house, achieving a goal, etc)
  • What were the hard or difficult things this last year has brought?
  • How did we see God at work in our lives last year?
  • What ways were we able to be a part of the work God was doing in the world this past year?
  • What should we do less of or get rid of? What should we do more of or start doing?

After taking stock of the past year, then take some time to look ahead to what is to come. If the past year has been a difficult one for you, a new and fresh start can be so welcoming! If you realized that last year wasn’t all you wanted it to be, you get to put the old behind and start anew. God’s mercies are new every morning! God is all about making things new, and we are always invited to join Him.

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.'” 

Isaiah 43:18-19

The new year is a fresh start to re-commit all aspects of your life to the Lord. Allow Him to guide your steps in the coming year. Just as it is important to reflect back, it is equally important to look ahead. Take a moment to just imagine what this new year can bring. Here are some questions that to ponder about the coming year and pray about with God:

  • What might God be wanting to do in your life in the coming year?
  • How could you join God in what He is doing?
  • What ways can you grow in your relationship with God, with your family, and with your church community?
  • What are 3 things you really want to happen in the coming year?

It is my prayer for you that you will intentionally look to God in this coming year, knowing that He is always at work and He is always working on your behalf. God invites you to be still and rest in Him so that you can see Him at work in the blessings around you. You are His precious child and He longs for you to live the amazing and abundant life He has for you!