In October last year, I sat down and did a timeline of the last 14 years of our family journey. It was a time of reflection to see how the hand of God has carried us through our seasons, and to recognise certain milestones and challenges we have faced.
We reminisced the birth of each son, the major accidents my son Emmanuel had encountered; we even talked about the loss of baby number 3 before Nate came along – how God has His plans, and how everything happens according to His good purpose. And finally, we gave thanks for each milestone and crisis moment as we know our lives are in our Creator’s hand, and only He can orchestrate the miracles and teach us new things – through our faith and trust in Him.
These milestones and crises are worth celebrating and remembering, before we make plans to move forward as a family.
Timelines are particularly useful for studying history as they convey a sense of change over time. Wars and social movements are often shown in timelines. If we look at the events that took place in 2017 – we would see the following:
January 20 – Trump’s election to the US presidency
March 29 – The UK government invoked Article 50 of the treaty of European Union – which put it on course to leave the EU on March 29 2019.
July 21 – Yemen, Southern Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia are predicted to lose 20 million people this year to conflict driven famine
August 25 – Start of genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar
August 30 – Hurricane Irma’s devastation and damage of around $200 billion dollars…
As we approached the end of 2017, my boys and I discussed these events that took place. The most memorable event for them was Donald Trump’s presidency. How does God use new and unconventional leaders to shape his world? What are his plans for the US and how will that impact the rest of the world? Can we trust God when the economy and policies of global powers seem unfair?
I highlighted the plight of the Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia famine, as these stirred my heart the most. We looked at internet pictures of the crisis and the people affected by the famine. It is a difficult picture for young children to look at, kids who have never experienced hunger, let alone severe famine and war; what can we do to grow in empathy and compassion for the poor?
We also discussed the story of gratitude, and how Kevin and I were able to meet the people who had rescued my family when we were boat refugees, and what it means to truly be thankful. The outcome of that discovery has been a greater desire to pay it forward to make a difference and to always know that God can use terrible circumstances to bring out the best in us. And then we looked at what has happened more locally – and the one thing that struck us all was the family conflict between the Prime Minister and his siblings – how social media cannot be contained, and the problems that arise when bad press and family feuds overlap with the nation’s political agenda.
As we set goals for the year ahead, these discussions help set the stage as I guide the boys with leading questions so that they can form a deeper understanding of God’s hand in global and local situations.
We looked at our own lives and ask, “God, what are you doing in each of us – and in the family as a whole”? Training children to see from God’s perspective requires an intentional effort to read His word and discern what God’s bigger story is and how we are called into His plans.
Our family goals for 2018 are still being formed, but we do know that this process of reflection is an important process for us to move forward for 2018, as only God can mark out our steps and though we plan – He is the one who will direct our paths.