The end of the year is always a time for reflection – looking back over the year that is ending, and dreaming and planning for the year to come.
As I look back over 2018, there have been many joys and many challenges, but one thing stands out as a highlight – the fulfilment of a long-held dream. (And actually it’s not something I’ve shared much about here.)
Over six years ago I began working on material for Christian groups in schools. (In Scotland, optional groups to allow pupils to explore faith are possible in many schools either at lunch time or after school.)
I was leading a group at the time and I saw a need for a programme to help children explore the whole story of the Bible and how it fits together so I came up with one and ran it with my group. I had always hoped that it could develop into something that could be shared with others but there was no opportunity at the time.
The material, and the dream, lay dormant but not forgotten, until this year I spoke of it to someone once again and, to my surprise, the idea was met with excitement, support and the encouragement to go for it.
In August the first term of a two-year programme was released and, as I write, term two has been released and term three is well underway. Around 100 groups are using the material and I have been blown away by the positive feedback and the encouragement of seeing how it is being valued!
I’m amazed how, after such a long wait, everything moved so quickly in the end, and I can also see how, after blogging and writing for three years, I am much, much better equipped for the task than I would have been if I had been able to pursue it straight away.
I share this to encourage you: If God has given you a dream, don’t give up on it! His timing is not the same as ours, but it is perfect.
On the blog
It’s always fascinating to look back at the end of the year and see which posts have been the most popular.
Looking back at 2018 a couple of themes emerge.
Many of my most popular posts have been those dealing with the struggle of feeling inadequate in some way:
Then there was one dealing with a question many of us have at times even though we may not dare to articulate it or even acknowledge it:
The other most popular posts have been the book posts. You can check out my top 10 picks of 2018 here.
Word for the year
For the last three years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I have prayed about a word to focus on throughout the year. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I have found it to be surprisingly effective.
2016 was Surrender, which led me into all kinds of places I’d never have expected including a new church plant.
2017 was Voice – I learned to find my voice more, in writing and in life, as well as learning more about listening well to others and the importance of different voices.
2018 was Focus – I haven’t written so much about my word this year, but again it has been helpful. A lot of my focus has been on developing healthy habits of eating and exercise and it has definitely been worthwhile. I have also been reflecting on the difference it makes when we choose our focus rather than just being swept along by our situation, and I have discovered more of a focus for my writing.
Looking ahead to 2019, the word that has come to me is Truth.
As usual, I’m not sure how it will play out, but some initial thoughts are:
- Holding to the truth of God’s Word and making it a priority
- Being willing to speak truth even when it’s hard (I wrote recently about the difficulty of finding the balance between grace and truth and that most of us have a tendency to drift one way or the other. I definitely tend to drift towards grace, so I think looking at how to get the balance will be part of the coming year’s focus.)
- Living authentically – being honest with God, myself and others about the truth of who I am, not feeling that I need to present a certain image or that there are parts I need to hide
I’m sure I will write more about it here as we go through 2019.
What about you? I’d love if you’d comment and share a highlight from 2018 or a hope for 2019.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all many blessings for the year ahead!