Every year on New Year’s Day we sit down as a family and write out a chronicle of the past year. It is always a blessing and an encouragement to look back and remember all that the Lord has done for us, in us and through us over the course of the year.
I am looking forward to sitting down again and writing this year’s chronicle. We enjoy remembering all the happy times we’ve shared together and recounting God’s goodness to us in the midst of our trials. It is a time of discipling our children, as we help them to recall the faithfulness of our God.
We write this testimony in a large, lined journal and add to it every year. After we write down the year’s events we close in prayer, thanking God for His faithfulness to us for another year and praying for each other in the year to come. We also love to re-read the chronicles of years past, refreshing our memories about details that have grown hazy with the passage of time, and rejoicing in amazing providences which we will never forget but which we delight to recall again and again.
We began keeping a list in 2005 of things we were thankful for, but the next year our list became much more structured as we followed the lead of Doug Phillips of the Vision Forum. His article “How to end 2006” included a long list of questions that helped jog our family’s memories as we compiled our list. He also shared in this post two other things his family does at the end of each year. I would encourage you to read it. I keep a printout of his post in our journal so that we have it handy every year. I always store this journal with our Christmas books so that we don’t lose track of it from year to year.
We sit down together with our journal, our calendar from the past year (which can help to jog our memories) and a pen. My husband asks several questions and we all call out answers, which I record as bullet points in the journal.
Some of the topics we cover include a list of our travels for the year, any significant household projects which we accomplished, important meetings and events, friendships which were new or which grew deeper over the course of the year, milestones for the children (such as height and weight of each child, who lost teeth, who learned to read, and the like), and births and deaths in our extended family.
We record a list of blessings, accomplishments and victories for each family member, such as details about sports involvement, children whose pictures appeared in the newspaper, new skills like riding a bike or learning to walk, awards won and highlights in my husband’s career.
We try each year to write the titles of our favorite books (individually and as a family), though sometimes it is hard to remember all that we’ve read. Each year I say I will do better about recording such things as the year progresses, but I have yet to remember. Perhaps that will be my New Year’s Resolution this year!
We also write down any significant national events (such as the election of a new president), details about ministries we have been involved with, memory work the children have done over the course of the year and what we studied in family devotions. We include sections titled “great personal losses”, “national tragedies”, and “significant events” (whether positive or negative).
This year I’d like to add a section for funny memories of things the children have said or done. I’ve begun keeping a private blog for my eyes only where I write these things down as they happen. It has been a great aid to me in keeping track of the “little things” before I forget!
Our list ends with the “top 10 things that define the year”.
“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4: 4-7