A New Year’s Tradition Worth Starting

January 4, 2016 , In: THANKS

I hope this doesn’t come too late but I want to share something special that my family does as part of our New Year festivities – a little tradition that helps us understand one another better, celebrate together and know how to pray for each other for the year ahead.

It requires only courage and honesty and two listening ears. We started this tradition before the advent of smart phones and so we never had to have rules about them but I think it’s worth saying, tuck your phones way out of reach for this to work.

The process is simple: one by one, you share the previous year’s highlights, ‘lowlights’ and then look towards the next year in ‘headlights’. If my family of more than 10 adults can do it, I’m sure you can do it no matter what your family looks like.

  1. Highlights – Talk about the things that made your previous year one to remember. What gifts and opportunities did God give you? What lessons did He teach you? Who are the people you are grateful for?

My highlights for this year:

  • knowing that a dream class can be a reality by God’s grace along with consistent classroom practices
  • being entrusted to lead a team of amazing educators, working well together and constantly learning
  • enjoying our best Philippine trip yet: celebrated my Mom’s 70th birthday and saw all my siblings (there’s 9 living in 6 different countries) for the first time since our wedding three years ago, Cam finally got to meet my best friend Jed from Uni, caught up with high school super friend Welga, hung out with Eena as we explored the crazy busy Philippine street markets and was blown away by a play written by my good friend Eljay (whose writing prowess I always believed in!)
    Our growing family - that's with people missing!

    Our growing family – that’s with people missing!

    Bawled my eyes out as the play concluded, happy tears as I was so proud of Eljay

    Bawled my eyes out as the play concluded, happy tears as I was so proud of Eljay

    Was a joy to watch the play with friends

    Was a joy to watch the play with friends

  • building close friendships, an answer to prayer, with workmates like Kathryn, Louise and Jen and our Bible study family: Lilly, Lem, Kath, James, Maddy, Chris, Emily, Paul, Abigail, Sarah & Sammy (Darryl, Soyoun & Ethan you will always be honourary members) and having Kat come and study in Melbourne
  • continuing to work at Donvale Christian College, an amazing school community I never thought possible, see all the fun we have in this video:

  • witnessing God’s miracle of Kerryn’s recovery – that’s why she was our treasure in the video above
  • growing in my knowledge and awe of God as I desire to read His Word more, with my class, in our Thursday night studies, with Cameron and by myself
  • journeying with Cameron this year as he got his love for photography back, being his assistant for his first magazine assignment after many years (I even made it on the magazine), his getting a teaching job at RMIT, watching him devote so much effort for his students and his commitment in leading our Bible study
  • gaining new skills, creating and taking time to reflect through this blog
  • exploring God’s majestic handiwork that is New Zealand
  • and there are other stories, not quite mine to tell, but have been major highlights for both me & Cam: stories of being reunited and living as a family after many years apart, weddings and finding the most suitable job in a generous and loving community
  1. Lowlights – We know that’s not officially a term but that’s what we call it. I guess it’s to emphasise that even in the dark times, there is light. Prepare the tissues and brace yourself for some tears. This is where you share your struggles in the previous year. What were the moments that got you really down? Why was it difficult? How did God carry you through these times?

My lowlights for this year:

  • It ends positively as I shared in my highlights but many tears were shed this year in praying for our dear Kerryn’s healing. Perhaps I can one day share more of her story, as she allows. These were tough times. I praised Kerryn for holding onto God through it all but she was right in correcting me, it was God who held onto her.
  • World events – decisions made by individuals and those in power that are in direct opposition to God’s design and command. I know we all have different beliefs but I know the True Lord’s design is best because He created us all and the world we live in.
  • Aches and pains – I now have arthritis in three of my fingers and possibly one toe. My lower back is out of whack and I think I’ve had my worst year of psoriasis. Getting a specialist appointment (for my fingers) has been an ordeal, but yay! After months and months of being on the waitlist, I get to see a specialist in a week!
  1. Headlights – Now that you’ve looked back, sharing celebrations and struggles, it’s time to look to the future. What are you looking forward to this year? How are you planning to better spend your time? What are the challenges and decisions ahead?

My headlights for 2016:

  • Reading the Bible each day and spending time in prayer – no excuses! I live best when my mind is filled with the thoughts of my Creator, Lord and Saviour Jesus. So why should I ever miss time with the God who holds time – the One who gives me every breath? If you need encouragement in this area, I highly recommend this article.
  • Being more confident as I lead and teach. ‘We were only born with two fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Everything else is learnt.’ This is from Captain Eric who speaks to kids on the topic of resilience. I’m not sure about the science behind his words but they have encouraged me to let go of fears that hinder me from doing my best work.
  • Cooking for us at home more than eating out. We enjoy our favourite restaurants but going too often makes it less special. It can also be quite tiring as we have to drive to and from. Doing this three times or so during a workweek, the hours add up when staying at home is much more appealing. Plus, it’s not exactly budget-friendly.
  • Captura – Cam’s photography workshops business had to be put on hold as we both realised his first teaching stint would take more time than the three days of teaching. I look forward to continuing as Cam’s website developer and number one fan in this endeavor.
  • Friends and family – We hope to be better at catching up with our loved ones, here in Melbourne and overseas. I have to admit Skype and FB catch-ups aren’t my favourite but with all my siblings and Mom in different countries, we will just have to make do!
  • Creating and connecting more than consuming: this goes for my time on the internet, instead of just looking at friends’ profiles to see what’s happening in their lives, I would actually prefer to have a conversation with them. I also want to be more selective of the articles I read (no, I don’t need to know where that celebrity spent his holidays or the 5 things only people with big eyes understand). I’m also looking forward to dedicating a set time to create more helpful and inspiring content for Little Scratch.

This time of sharing our highs, lows and hopes is one of my favourite family traditions. Through it, I see each person in our family more clearly and get to know them even better. This is one of the things I dearly miss as we have not been able to do this with everyone (all siblings with their families) for at least three years now. Sounds like a 2016 project!

What are your 2015 highlights and lows? What are your hopes for 2016?

I wish you a happy new year and if you haven’t yet, I pray that you may know the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace & Joy,


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Rachel Herweynen

Teaching Principal

Alive because of Jesus. My husband Cameron and I have the privilege of living and working in a remote indigenous community, our home, Gäwa on Elcho Island, Australia. What a joy to not only be principal and teacher but also granddaughter, mother, aunty, child and mother-in-law. Above all, always daughter of the King.

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