It’s the last Monday in 2019, and truly it’s one of my favorite seasons. I love reflecting on the year we had before I look ahead to set goals for the future. So today I’m sharing six questions to ask at the end of a year. I don’t want to just weigh the good and the bad to figure out of it was a successful year. I want to remember that God uses everything we experience for our good. The hardest days were for my good. The easiest day were for my good. And my good is to look more like Christ every day.
Listen to Self Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver on iTunes or the link below.
Quick links from the episode:
- Our trip to the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree
- My Patreon page
- Self-Care for the Special-Needs Mom Facebook group
This is self care and soul care for the care giver, and I’m your host—Sandra Peoples. To us, self care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.
It’s the last Monday in 2019, and truly it’s one of my favorite seasons. I love reflecting on the year we had before I look ahead to set goals for the future. So today I’m sharing six questions to ask at the end of a year. I don’t want to just weigh the good and the bad to figure out of it was a successful year. I want to remember that God uses everything we experience for our good. The hardest days were for my good. The easiest day were for my good.
You can check the show notes for a list of the questions if you’re driving or folding laundry and can’t write them down, so don’t worry about remembering them all. Let’s jump in and go through these together.
The first question is: What was my biggest challenge in 2019? Maybe something comes to mind right away. Or maybe you have to think through a few challenges to figure out which one felt like the biggest. Early in the year I stepped back from my job at Key Ministry. That was a financial challenge for our family. Then it was an even bigger challenge when James started therapy (after being on a wait list for over a year). But then there was a job opportunity I thought I would be perfect for. And it would be perfect for us because the salary for this very part time job would help cover James’s therapy cost. But I didn’t get the job. And not getting the position wasn’t just a financial disappointment, I really believed I was perfect for it. I believed my hard work over the years and the decisions I had made set me up for it. But it didn’t work out.
The second question is the perfect follow up: What did God teach me during that season? For me, it was that my solution to our challenges wasn’t God’s solution. He reminded me again that He isn’t a God of punishments and rewards for behavior. He brought to mind Eph. 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I just have to walk in what He has already laid out for me to do. I don’t have to fight for it or strive for it. He will direct my steps, just as He has always done.
That brings us to question 3: What was my biggest success in 2019? What felt like a huge win? Maybe it isn’t even in your own life, but a big family success? What happened that made you stop and think wow, look what God can do?! I didn’t talk about our biggest success much because, well, it has to do with poop. And not everyone can handle poop talk the way special-needs parents and caregivers can. So just let me quickly say that James had a bowel movement in the potty for the first time ever this year at 11 years old. It truly was a life-changer for us. Soon after he learned that new skill, we went to the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National park to celebrate my 40thbirthday. It would have been so much more difficult to do without his new potty skills. His gut health is better because he isn’t as constipated, and his appetite has improved. We’re still working on not wearing pull ups at night and other potty-related skills, but this was a huge win for all of us.
This follow up question is the same as it was for our biggest challenge: What did God teach me during that season? He uses everything to make us more like His Son, so what did your biggest success in 2019 teach you? How did it make you more like Christ? For me, James’s big potty success came after a pretty humiliating conversation with his occupational therapist. She wanted to help him be more independent as he transitioned to jr high, so she called and asked some good questions. Good questions with hard answers though. James’s potty training was an area of shame for me. I didn’t think I could help him be successful and it made me feel like a bad mom. But as his OT and I talked through what he did and what she believed he could do, I started to believe it too. That humbling conversation was the push I needed to help him. As hard as it was, God reminded me that He brings people into our lives to help us and our kids. I didn’t have to live in that shame alone. When it came to light, we found a solution.
Now we’re ready for questions number 5: What am I most thankful for at the end of 2019? As I sit next to the Christmas tree with my favorite cookies, what does God bring to mind that brings me joy? Through every challenge and success, what stands out? One word comes to my mind—perseverance. We kept showing up. Psalm 126:5 says “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” It’s a verse I’ve hung on to since James was diagnosed with autism in 2010. Through each challenge big and small, everyone in my family kept showing up.I’m so thankful God empowered us each morning to do what He called us to do. We can look back on the year with shouts of joy thanks to all He did.
And our last question to ask at the end of the year: What matters most to me in 2020? A year from now, when you’re looking back on 2020, what do you hope to focus on? You know there will be challenges, but even during the unpredictable seasons to come, you get to choose your priorities. You get to choose your outlook. On my Patreon page this winter we finished up a study through Philippians and one of my biggest takeaways was that joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. That’s what I want to take with me into 2020—a joy that surpasses all understand. Joy in my family and in every situation God will guide us through. That’s what matters most to me.
Let me pray for you as you put down your phone and work through these questions: God, we have so much to praise you for at the end of 2019. As Pastor John Piper says, You are working in thousands of different ways and we are only aware of a few of them at any given moment. We take time today to look back at the moments that stand out from this year—the challenge and the successes. And we give You praise for each one and the lessons we learned. Help us to not only answer these questions to ourselves, but to share them with our families so our praise to You can be magnified! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Over on sandrapeoples.com you can check out a transcript of the show and see the show notes. If you haven’t joined my Facebook group focused on self-care for the special-needs mom, today is a great time to do that. We’ll talk each week about the podcast episodes, and in January we’ll be setting goals for the year and evaluating what works and doesn’t work for our families. The link for that group is at sandrapeoples.com as well, in the show notes for this episode.
Thanks for joining me as we close out 2019. In the new year I have helpful episodes planned that will help you streamline your life and find joy in your circumstances. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss them! Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. It’s important for us to take care of ourselves so we can care for the loved ones God has entrusted to us.