one question to ask yourself before the end of the year

As many of you know, my small group girls graduated in May. They’ve been in college now for a week. I wanted to see them before they left but I knew they were busy packing up and spending time with their friends. walk to school

In the end, five out of the ten texted me seperately to get together. So the week before they left, I was squeezing in coffee and frozen yogurt and a few hours of conversation on my living room sofa.

During the course of my one-on-one conversations with them, I asked them all the same question before our time was over – When May comes and you look back on your freshman year, what do you hope you’ll be able to say about it?

They all had a little different answers depending on their goals and personalities.

But not one of them said, You know Emily, I really hope I’ll be able to say that I was anxious, worried, and fearful the whole year.

We don’t plan for anxiety and we don’t hope for it, either. It tends to show up without an invitation. Same goes for doubt, procrastination, comparison, and defeat.

Walking our fourth grade girls and our first grade son to school this week, I’ve been thinking about the end of the year – What do I hope they’ll be able to say about this year when the end of it comes? What do I hope to say myself?

Maybe a better question is this one:

What can I do today to practice the future I hope we’ll have?

I wonder what it is for you – when this school year is over, what word or phrase do you hope you’ll be able to use to describe it? Is there any way to practice that future today?


  1. says

    This year my oldest is done with school and my two youngest (twins) have yet to begin. (I know, big gap!) However, I direct two children’s choirs and my husband and I lead a youth group. Every year, I just hope we can be the examples that the Lord wants us to be. I pray our hearts and actions speak love and represent truth.
    Enjoy the new school year with your lovely family!

  2. says

    …that I have been faithful to the call and purpose God has for me – trusting Him for strength, patience, trust and love in guiding these girls I’ve been entrusted with…

  3. Lucy says

    Emily, once again you’ve challenged me to think before I’ve had a full cup of coffee. I’m on Pacific Time. Just this year my husband and I have decided to take on an I-20 international student. We are technically a childless couple who have permitted the Lord to plop a 16 year old vietnamese teenager into our hearts and home. While she knows of Jesus, she has yet to experience Him in personal and transformational way. That said, I hope that at the end of May 2014 our little Kelly will have seen, experienced and felt the unconditional love of Christ through her 9 months of living with us. And that our lives will be a tangible testimony of how much she is loved. Lastly, that our hearts will ache from love when she returns home for summer and not be glad summer has returned for all the wrong reasons. That is my hope.

  4. says

    Emily, a great thought-provoking post. First of all, I do love that your *girls* wanted some time with you before they left for college. That is precious.

    As to the rest of your thoughts, they have me pondering right now. No, I don’t ever wish for anxiety to accompany me as I go through my days, but it seems to be a constant companion anyway. I suppose what I would really like to say at the end of the year is that I was a conqueror. That in spite of difficult and trying circumstances, I was able to stand my ground.

    How to practice that outcome today? Well, by keeping on in my prayers and my devotionals. By staying in the Word, where strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow lies waiting for me. By always relying on the LORD’S strength, and not my own.

    I’m thinking of that old saying, “Practice what you preach.” In light of your thoughts today, maybe it should read, “Practice and you will reach!”


  5. says

    Emily, I just spent the evening with a girl who started college a week ago. What a time of change and so much new piled tall and high all around her. I love being able to walk with her through this time. My own feelings and memories about college and college life are some of my most vivid—and oh, what a time of growing those years were.

    The questions you’ve posed for us are GOLDEN. I know that as long as I’m alive I will be actively learning and growing with God. Will I be as “aware” as a new freshman walking onto campus, setting up her new digs in the dorm and navigating this big, scary, wonderful world of college life? Will I see this year as a time to be intentional about moving into things that are new and scary? And will I sit down an write myself a letter right now, speaking out a vision of who I long to be and what I sense God wants to do with me. You bet!
    Thanks, Emily. Helping women learn to ask good questions is often more helpful than doling out “the answers.”

  6. says

    Great questions Emily. You would make an excellent life coach you know? I know teenagers wouldn’t respond this way but I would hope that after this year, they would be more assured of who they are and confident in their gifts. That their lives wouldn’t consist of playing it safe and fitting in but they would feel like they truly belong. We practice that by challenging our kids to think out of the box in our conversations and dreaming together.

  7. says

    I wonder what it is for you – when this school year is over, what word or phrase do you hope you’ll be able to use to describe it?
    ^my answer: “I sought Jesus out with my whole heart, and here is where I saw Him moving in my life”. I want to be bold in my faith and in my life with God.

    What can I do today to practice the future I hope we’ll have?
    ^trusting God, listening for Him and His plans, seeking Him in the midst of every day-not just when I need help.

    (the rest of this is a bit rambly, bear with me).
    I love this so much. And I needed it today! In the midst of a crazy school and work schedule, with a sudden major change (to English Education- woohoo!), I have to remind myself to let go of the stress, anxiety, and fear, and completely put it in God’s hands. I can’t let that rule my year or my life. I want to be able to look back in May and say,”I let God have control of my life, and here are the things I see Him doing.”
    I work in my school’s campus ministry office, and we’re reading the book Finding Father together, which has been great so far. There was a line from the book my friend mentioned that said ,”We discover that we can greet each day with a ‘Good morning, Father! Let the day begin.'”
    I want to be more like that. I want to believe fully that every day is a good day because God is already there and is making it beautiful, no matter what challenges come my way. I want to be able to look and clearly see the moments that God is moving me, changing me into whatever He has created me to be. I’m trying to seek Him in every aspect of my day; I’ve already seen some things in myself that I’ve never seen before, and it’s all because I’m letting God take complete charge of my days. It’s a struggle, but I’m letting God have every day to do His work, and I’m already starting to see how beautiful life is when He has it in His hands. :-)

  8. says

    “What can I do today to practice the future I hope we’ll have?”

    That is a powerful question. I guess every day we’re practicing for something, whether we realize it or not. Also? I kind of like the word “practicing” rather than discipline. Discipline sometimes scares me but practicing is something I can do. : )

  9. says

    Thanks for this post Emily. I hope I look back/forward on… being a brave and courageous mom and not letting the fear envelope me. I long for my girl’s to not live by fear, but bravely walk through this journey we call life.

  10. says

    First, I found that embodying all of my intention in one word helps provide a theme for my thoughts and actions. For example, my word for this month is “accepting”. I come back to this word often because I have trouble with it in the senses that I mean it. I know that at some point, my word will have to be “forgiving” because it’s something else I need to work on. Your post inspired me to be even more deliberate about achieving my intention.

    Second, those are some rockin’ pants!

  11. says

    I enjoyed this post so much, Emily. The idea and the challenge is worthy and powerful (: For the future I hope we will have, I am practicing joy and kindness. Also, I am fixing my heart on seeing, really seeing. Hugs to you ?Q

  12. says

    I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing. I’m going into my senior year of college this year and I’m also a co-leader of a small group for the first time ever… I am definitely jotting this question down to ask my freshman girls as I start to meet up with them within the next few months. :) It’s also a good one, too, to ask myself.

    And I love your followup question… I think it’s so on point. Unless we are intentional about it, a whole year can go by in the blink of an eye without even realizing it… ”

    It tends to show up with out an invitation.” I can’t get that image out of my head.


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