Family Devotion: New Year’s Eve

photo (44)Holidays are a great opportunity to start spiritual conversations with our family.  They offer us a chance to build meaningful traditions and point our kids to back to God even if the holiday itself has little or no spiritual significance.  Kids love holidays, and they make a fun excuse to talk about God together.  Following is the first of several family devotions I’ll be writing in 2015 to help parents make the most of the holidays throughout the year.

Holiday: New Year’s Eve

Verse to Remember: Lord, I will remember what you did. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11 NIrV

Opening Activity:

Make a family timeline. Write the name of each of the twelve months on a piece of paper and challenge your kids to see how much they can remember that happened in your family’s life in 2014 and write them by the month when they occurred. Include big things and small things, good things and bad things.

For example, you might list things like getting a new pet, having a birthday, starting a new school year, going on vacation, catching the flu, welcoming a new baby brother or sister or even losing a loved one.

Read the Devo together:

Do you think you have a good memory?  How much can you remember that happened in 2014?  Have you noticed that people do a lot of remembering this time of year? Everywhere you look on TV, in magazines and on the internet, people are remembering the best and worst things that happened in 2014. They talk about the biggest news stories, the biggest movies and other special things that happened.

But way more important than remembering all of that stuff is remembering what God has done. New Year’s Eve can be a fun time to look back at the last year and remember the cool things God has been up to in our lives.

Look At the Bible:

In the book of Joshua, the Bible talks about how important it is to remember what God has done. For years and years and years, God had been promising to give His special people, the Israelites, their very own country, a place called the promised land. They used to be slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them, and in this story He does a miracle by stopping the water of a river so the people could cross over to their new home.

Wow, what a big day! The Israelites got a brand new home thanks to God’s amazing power, and they didn’t even have to get wet going there.  God did not want His people to forget the awesome things He had done.  He didn’t want them to forget how much He loved them, so here is what He told them to do.

Read Joshua 4:1-7 together. 

What did Joshua have the people do? How do you think they felt every time they saw that pile of stones?

Bring It Home

Let’s look at our family timeline. Look at all of these things that happened to us this last year. Which months do you think God was with us?  One month?  Two?  No, God was with us every single day.  What are some things on our list that we can thank God for? Where did God show up this year? What are some hard things that He helped us through?

Remembering the cool things God has done gives us courage to face the future.  The same God who was with us this past year, promises to be with us in the new year no matter what.


God, thank You for all that you did in our family this past year. Help us to remember how good You are as we go into the new year. Amen.

Extra Activity:

For an extra activity, make your own monument just like the Israelites did.  Get out the art supplies and have kids draw pictures that remind them of some of the good things God did in your family in the past year.  Put those pictures somewhere your family will see them as you go into the new year together.

Praying with Your Family in the New Year


Photo Credit: Lauren Manning via Compfight cc

Want an easy way to get your family praying together in 2014?  Hang on to the Christmas cards you receive this season and use them as a fun excuse to pray for others throughout the new year.

Just collect the cards in a box or basket and keep them close to the dinner table.   A couple of times a week, let one of your kids pull out a card at random during dinner and take a few minutes to pray over it.  Before you know it, your family will have built in a regular rhythm of praying for others.  Easy peasy.

Not sure what to pray?  Brainstorm with your kids or pick a couple of the following ideas to get you started:

  • Pray that they would know how much God loves them.
  • Pray that they would hear from God and recognize his voice.
  • Pray for physical protection and health.
  • Pray for spiritual protection and strength.
  • Pray for their relationships (family, friends, work, etc.)
  • Pray that the hard things in their life would draw them closer to God.
  • Pray that their faith would get bigger.
  • Pray that they would have the courage to do what God wants them to do.
  • Pray that God would send them fun surprises in their day.

Remember, kids may tune out long, boring prayers and confusing, churchy language so keep the prayers short, simple and real.  You want kids to learn to pray like they normally talk so that it becomes a natural part of their day.

Also, try to give everyone a chance to participate without putting anyone on the spot.  You may want to take turns by having someone different pray each night or just let anyone who wants to pray go for it.

If you make this a fun part of your dinner tradition, your kids will start to look forward to it and may end up pestering you to keep it going long after the Christmas cards run out.

Drop Off Dad

Back to school time can be a difficult season filled with anxiety, tears and sleepless nights. I am, of course, talking about parents.  The kids are usually fine after the first five minutes, but some of us moms and dads are absolute basket cases.

I speak from experience.  Here is my record so far:

1. First day of preschool, minor basket case
2. First day of kindergarten, major basket case.
3. First day of first grade, official Longaberger representative

Here’s the problem.  We had our kids at home for the first three years of their lives.  The only people to watch them were family and close friends.  Then came the day we had to drop them off with total strangers and just walk away.  For overprotective parents like us it’s a horrible feeling of releasing control and trusting your kid into the hands of someone else.

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