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Holy Everything: Take time to reflect on the past year

Reflection is a key component of a healthy life. Our days are more than the accumulation of routines, special events and interactions with other people. Life is also comprised of the space between all the activity. The moments when we pause to breathe and reflect.

The approaching new year provides an apropos time for personal and professional reflection. In the days ahead, I encourage you to grab a cup of tea or coffee and think through the questions below. (Know that I'll be doing this right along with you.) Maybe these prompts would make good fodder for a conversation with a friend or spouse. Maybe they'd make a starting point for a set of journal entries or material for quiet contemplation out at Quarry Hill. In whatever ways are most authentic to you, set aside time to explore the past year and envision the year ahead.

What was the most important skill you learned in 2015?

This reflection question comes straight from the mouth of my brother, Josh, who asked it over the Christmas break. Perhaps your answer relates to work or home. Maybe it was a new technical skill you acquired on the job or maybe a new communication skill you learned from your counselor.

Take a moment to think about the most important skill you learned over the past year. Consider expressing a prayer of gratitude for this newfound ability.

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When were times you showed resilience in the past year?

A few weeks back I came across a terrific definition of resilience. It is from Lutheran World Relief. That organization describes resilience in three parts; it is the capacity of a system (individuals, households, or communities) to 1) absorb the impacts of shocks and stressors, 2) adapt to changing circumstances, and 3) transform amid uncertainty. Resilience is a beneficial quality for us all to continue developing on an ongoing, life-long basis.

When were times in 2015 that you exemplified resilience and perseverance? Take a moment to give yourself a warm hug and some affirmation for this good work.

In what experiences of 2015 can you now recognize God was present?

I've noticed in my own journey that I don't always recognize God's presence in the midst of things. Oftentimes it is after the fact. By taking time to reflect, we gain perspective.

Looking back over the past year, where can you now see that God truly was with you? How might the recognition of this guiding presence help you to trust in God's nearness in the future? Perhaps you didn't feel much or any of God's presence in the past year. It's OK to express that, too!

What sort of fruit do you aspire to bear in 2016?

In the 15th chapter of John, Jesus talks about bearing fruit. He says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit." The past year was a smorgasbord for me. It was the very worst year of my life, and it was also the most important year of my life. As I envision the next 12 months, I like to think specifically about what kind of fruit I aspire to bear.

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How about you? Of the fruits of the spirit named in Paul's letter to the Galatians, which would you like to especially develop this year: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, or a combination?

What specific relationships in your life do you want to nurture in the year ahead?

Time flies. It really does. One year becomes the next year becomes the next decade and so on. Relationships are such special gifts this lifetime! Take time to think through the specific friendships, family connections, and professional relationships you want to prioritize in 2016. Now comes the next step: Carve out the time to make it happen. Schedule coffees and walks. Set aside time for a retreat with your spouse or kids. Gather work colleagues together for a staff development day. The time we invest in relationships is generally always a great investment.

May the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 be a space of meaningful reflection in your journey. And thank you for being such a integral part of my journey over the past 4.5 years. I'm looking forward to exploring the terrain of 2016 together throughout the months and columns ahead.

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