When you want to live on purpose
It’s mid-December, which means in the past ten days alone, our family has had middle school orchestra concerts, piano recitals, a kindergarten Christmas performance, kindergarten crafting, two elementary school auditions, three basketball games, a church Christmas party, an out-of-town Christmas party involving a night away, family visiting from out of town, a youth group event (at our house!), a Christmas worship service, a kids’ choir performance, nursing home caroling…plus, you know, school and work and dirty-floor mopping and food-eating and just life. I bet your life has run at similar holiday-fueled warp-speed! This time of year is so hectic, it’s tough to remember your own schedule for the day, let alone your entire last year of life! If we’re not careful, life flies so fast we barely have time to eat, much less stop to think. But what an opportunity we miss if we don’t make time to stop. To think. To pray.
Last week Kevin and I were looking for a way to help our little mission church to look back on the past year and truly see all God has done in their lives as individuals and in our lives as a church family. December—especially those precious days between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when school is out and the shopping and parties are finally done, praise the good Lord—is the perfect time to look back and reflect…and look ahead and dream. To help our church do this, Kevin and I came up with a list of 25 thought questions to help us look back on the last year with gratitude and intentionality—to actually process the things we experienced and put them into spiritual perspective, instead of simply surviving them and moving on to the next thing. (Spoiler alert: scroll down to find the questions!) And then we included a few questions to prompt us to look ahead to next year with purpose and faith.
We started working through them at one of our midweek services, and I plan to think through the rest in my early morning times with God over the next week or so. Journaling my way through these questions has been such a faith-building and even healing process! It’s reminded me of prayers I had prayed and forgotten all about, of gifts God has given that I still want to celebrate, of hard things we suffered and how God brought comfort even through heartache and delay. I share this list of 25 questions here in the hopes that sometime over the next few weeks you can steal a few moments to ponder these questions and write down your answers. I hope it helps you to put words to lessons you’ve learned that you didn’t even realize you’d learned, ways you have grown that you didn’t realize you’ve grown. I hope it helps you to remember all God has done. To see ways He has worked, gifts He has given, and prayers He has answered that you might not have noticed until now… and then to step into the new year confident that the God who saw you through last year will do the same next year.
If you’d like to download printable worksheets with these questions and space for journaling, click here!
How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard
Looking Back with Gratitude, Looking Ahead with Faith
Reflections on the Past Year
1. Name some of the greatest blessings you are grateful for this year.
2. What are some of the hardest things you experienced this year?
3. How did God use some of your hardships or losses to help you grow?
4. In what other ways did God bring good out of your hardships?
5. What are a few of your favorite memories from this year?
6. Name a new friendship(s) that you made this year, or an old friendship(s) that was made stronger.
7. Who have you learned from this year and what did you learn from them?
8. How did God use you to help someone else this year?
9. How did God surprise you this year?
10. Name a few scriptures that have meant the most to you this past year.
11. What have you cried about this year?
12. How has God comforted you?
13. Who were you able to comfort this year?
14. What have you laughed at this year?
15. What have you celebrated this year?
16. Who were you able to celebrate with?
17. What songs, books, films, or shows have drawn you closer to God this year?
18. When do you think God was especially proud of you this year?
19. How has God called you higher in the past year?
20. Name some things, events, or people that inspired you this year.
21. What have you accomplished that has brought joy both to you and the Lord?
22. Who are some people God is calling you to touch in the coming year?
23. What are some projects you believe God is calling you to accomplish in the new year?
24. What are some weaknesses God wants you to grow in this coming year?
25. What memories do you want to make or experiences do you want to have in the new year?
Download your printable worksheets—these 25 questions, plus room to journal your thoughts: Lizzy Life Year in Review Worksheet. Merry Christmas from my crazy house to yours!
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Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.