It’s always nice to start the New Year off with hope. In 2016 we did this with the help of bacon, our best friends, and a new Family Compassion Focus.
As I’ve mentioned so many times before, last year was tough. Moving, grieving, re-starting. We have a lot more reflecting to do, but I think we learned more about compassion by needing it instead of giving it. We were hurting and needy, and felt love from old and new friends, God, and each other. I think that’s going to shape things for a long time.
This was our fifth time officially choosing a Family Compassion Focus. The first time we decided to intentionally pursue compassion as a family we voted to love and serve Orphans (you can read about that choice here). Last year we voted to love and serve Haiti (you can read about that vote here).
We put our blank pages on the fridge early in the week and all added ideas at random times (you can read about the whole process here). I think this is the first time our kids understood there is no such thing as a bad idea. No one mocked anyone’s suggestions (or spelling). No one cried. Rejoice in the small victories, even if it takes 5 years.
[Please take these ideas and run with them, or download this free worksheet: Family Compassion Ideas 2015]
I fear change, and my family’s reaction to change, so I planned to do New Year’s Day exactly like we did last year. Of course that didn’t happen. I slept through breakfast, made our traditional candied bacon around noon, and announced that our birthday cake for 2016 and the Family Compassion Vote would be at dinner.
Here are the things I did to set the stage:
- I set a fancy table, because it’s our tradition, and makes it different than a regular day.
- Coordinated a simple meal (hamburgers) and enlisted help.
- Found last year’s questions, got rid of 6, added 2. Only 10 total. Wrote them on index cards.
- Got markers and paper for Word of the Year.
- Got index cards and pens for voting on the 2016 Family Compassion Focus.
- Found candles for 2016’s birthday cake.
Everyone got their burgers and chips and carried them into the dining room. While we were eating we went around the table asking the 10 questions. Everyone had to answer.
- What was your favorite book in 2015? (Greta’s was Stuart Little)
- What new thing did you learn in 2015? (Caleb said ping pong)
- What one moment would you like to repeat from 2015? (I said visiting Haiti)
- What one moment would you like to erase from 2015? (Zoë had a detention)
- What helped you on your hardest day in 2015? (Zoë said swimming)
- Where do you want to go in Georgia in 2016? (all the kids want to go rafting)
- What food would you like to try in 2016? (G might actually try pizza!)
- What planet? (my favorite, unexpected answers)
- What book character would you like to be like in 2016? (Caleb wants to be Colson, Director of Shield)
- What is your Word of the Year for 2016? (more on that later)
Each year I’m impressed by my kids’ maturing answers to different questions. The planet question was simple, but allowed the most profound answers. One child said, “That big red spot on Jupiter-that’s like me when I’m angry. But sometimes I’m sad and shy and scared, so I’m like Pluto. But I’m like Earth because I get happy and excited, to0.” (Please don’t think we’re talking deep every night at dinner. It’s maybe 3-4 times a year. I’m glad we at least start the year asking and listening. I learned so much.)
Then we quickly cleared the dirty dishes, gave everyone a blank piece of paper and a bunch of markers in the middle of the table. Everyone wrote their Word of the Year and illustrated it in some way. I cannot wait to see how these words come to life in 2016.
Then we sang Happy Birthday to 2016, had a chocolate cake by Zoë, homemade butter pecan ice cream by Chris, and homemade hot fudge by Danielle.
Then it was time to Vote. Chris read the lists we had written throughout the week. He asked for clarification in some spots. It was mostly facts and affirmation. Then he asked to write down our top 3 choices and turn them in to him. Then Chris announced the winner.
Our 2016 Family Compassion Focus is Georgia!
We are excited to getting to know our new home state, and find like-minded people who love and serve the lost and least from Matthew 25 and beyond. Within 5 minutes we were excited about all these ideas:
- Homeless in Atlanta
- Homeless kids and teenagers in Atlanta
- Homeless shelters that let people bring their pets
- Building houses with Habitat for Humanity
- Finding and Helping Refugees in Georgia
- Helping Schools with illiteracy
- Stocking Food Pantries in Fayette County
- Learning more about the Real Life Center in our town
- Learning more about Jimmy Carter
- Going to the Martin Luther King Jr Museum downtown
The twins cast a huge vision that had them high-fiving and jumping up and down: “What if we adopt a family through Habitat for Humanity, help build their house, then have a fundraiser to help them get everything for inside their house, and then help the school their kids would go to?! Boom! That’s it!”
Chris and I sat there blinking, as we normally do. Our friends laughed with us. We prayed for God to teach us in 2016. That we would grow in knowledge, understanding and love, for all kinds of people in Georgia. We cheered and clapped. Then, with smeared chocolate on our faces and full hearts, we finished.
We will spend the next couple of months researching amazing organizations in our town, county, big city, and state. After researching, we are going to let each kid pick a group they want to love and serve, and we will all support each other in compassion experiments (this was powerful for us in 2014 when we focused on homelessness, more here). We expect to be surprised. We always are.
What about you? Do you want to experiment with compassion this year?
We’d love to learn with you. We’d love to learn from you.
You are loved.
- How the Family Compassion Focus Was Born: why we do this
- Chickening Out: how a crazy little chicken dance raised over $10k for Haiti in 2015
- Together We Did It: some of the amazing things we learned and got to do with homelessness in 2014
- World Changer Wednesday – You: simple steps and a download to try this with your family
© Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2016
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