Dawn Savidge believes her annual practice of reviewing the last year with her family can help you prepare for all God has for you this Autumn
September is fast approaching. The time when we must set the alarm again after a long lazy summer. New school uniforms with name tags sown in are laid out. New school shoes with the hope that these ones will last the full school year – well at least until Christmas. A new work diary waiting for appointments, meetings, and plans. September is the time for new beginnings. Lamentations 3:22-23 says that God’s mercies are new each morning. Each and every day, your slate is wiped clean by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
My mum loves September even more than the New Year. For her, it is a time when the seasons start to change and new prospects dangle in the air, ready to be taken hold of. The start of a new school year punctuates new beginnings for all. A new season of parenting, whether it is letting go of a child to start school, a year of academic pressures with SATs, GCSEs or A-Levels, or a transition from nursery to reception or junior to high school.
Life is full of seasons. The start of a new school year gives us a chance to reflect on what seasons we have walked through in the past year. Seasons of hardship, blessing, favour, loss, new beginnings, and endings; we have all walked through a lot in a year.
During the late end of August, I sit down and reflect on the past year. I note down in my journal places that we had travelled, things we had achieved, losses that I had gained, new beginnings and endings that had happened; and then I sit and pray. I ask God to show me what He could see. We cannot move from season to season well unless we take the time to self-reflect.
I would love to share some questions that both you and your family can work through together so that you can both see where God has been working in and through your family in the last year, but also how you can grow closer to Him in the next year.
1. Where have you been this year? What filled you with joy? What made you want to give up? It may be that you have had significant moments as a family – holidays, exams, loss, moving house. I usually do this by writing down the months from September to September and listing all the things that we have done as a family. Scrolling through my camera roll helps with this one.
2. Where do you want to go next year as a family and how will you get there? This does not have to just be places; it could also be goals that you would like to achieve like learning a new instrument or starting that ‘couch to 5k’. This helps a family to support each other in achieving goals but also helps to put plans in place for how to get there.
3. What have you learnt about you and others? And what have you sowed into other people?
4. What did I need to learn from in this past year to grow and flourish in the next? This one might take a while to pray through.
5. What do you want to leave behind? It might be a disposition that you were carrying, a place that you were standing in, an unhealthy habit or relationship.
6. What has your relationship with God been like in the past year? How can you move closer to Him?
So, use this next week to journal, pray and reflect. God is with you in every season of your life, good and bad. He promises that He will never leave you (Matthew 28:20) and that there is no place that we can go where we can hide from His presence (Psalm 139: 7-12). Allow Him to comfort and guide you in the days ahead.