Anyone else feeling like they can look back to January and see so much genuine desire and intentionality to make sure they stayed walking close with Jesus through the year? Perhaps you even decided to make sure this Advent was decidedly Christ-centred? We really did mean to make time for Jesus but, as we look back now, we have to admit He hasn’t always been our No.1 thought and priority.
Rather than beat ourselves up, let’s re-centre ourselves as we end 2023. Read on for some challenges to help you get your gaze back on Jesus and what He has done and said this year.
Feel free to mix and match - maybe you’ve got time for one, maybe you fancy throwing yourself all in. Each challenge also has the option to make it a family one. Bring everyone together to see what Jesus has done in your family this year!
Sit down and reflect on the past year. If you’re a journaler, this is absolutely the time to grab your 2023 journal and start writing. If you’re an artist, get your sketchbook or paper and start painting or drawing. Maybe you’re a dancer - is this a chance to put some music on and start dancing as you ponder these questions?
Here are some questions to get you started:
⭐ What have I learnt about God this year?
⭐ How have I seen Him answer prayer?
⭐ Name a situation where you’ve seen a real breakthrough.
⭐ Think of some things you are deeply grateful for.
⭐ What Bible verse has meant a lot to me this year?
As a family: make some hot chocolate and gather around the table (or fire) to discuss the questions. It can be amazing to hear how different people remember different experiences and situations from the year.
If you all love getting your hands dirty, grab some paint and a massive sheet of paper and draw/paint your own 2023 Family Gratitude wall art!
This is pretty self explanatory! Again, go as creative as you want!! You could embroider your word or verse, create your own Scripture art (if you don’t feel your handlettering skills are quite up to it, you can sign up for a free Canva trial and create your own), put the verse to music...
As a family: decide on a word or verse for you all as a family. You could look at the fruit of the Spirit or one of the ‘do not be afraid’ verses if there are some big changes coming up this year.
Again, if you want to grab paper and craft supplies, go wild in creating your own piece of art to put up on the wall and remind you all through the year.
Is there a place you go each day that you could stick their name and pray for them whenever you stand there?
The second part of this challenge is the harder one - are you willing to be open to hard conversations that may arise? If that person comes to you and asks why Jesus is so important to you, do you have an answer?
Get a headstart on a new habit to take into 2024 and spend some time writing down things you’re grateful for.
Too often we are caught up in the negatives of our lives that, it’s not we’re ungrateful, we literally may not have even noticed a blessing staring us slap bang in the face.
If you’re a journaler, grab a notebook. Even if handlettering isn’t your thing, find some paper, write 2023 in the middle, and then just start writing down all the things that come to mind. Maybe leave it on the side or somewhere similar for a few days so you can keep adding to it.
On New Year’s Day, praise God for those, perhaps previously unnoticed, blessings.
As a family: When discussing Advent traditions, Ruth from Little Dove & Co. mentioned how during November they have a ‘thankful jar’ at dinner where each member of the family writes on a slip of paper something they’re thankful for.
Why not try a version of this as a family for the next few days? Have a jar out for these last few days of 2023 with some slips of paper. Set aside a time to do it (like dinner) or let people add as and when they remember something they’re thankful for. Then on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day you can open the jar and read all the thankfuls.
The point of these challenges isn’t to lay on more guilt but to give us some creative ways to explore God’s goodness to us in 2023. Even if right now it feels like it was a pretty rough year, I am confident when we look closer we will discover God has not left us.
As we leave 2023 behind and enter into 2024, we pray these days of ‘stepping over’ will be a chance to meet with Jesus, our Redeemer and King, and see how He has had His hand upon us.
Looking forward to seeing all God has in store for us, as the Cheerfully Given family, next year!
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