THIS year, as I prepare for back to school, my feelings seem to be pulling me in a different direction. You see, for me, it is often the excitement of seeing the children and youth heading back for another year of learning, activities and friendships. A time where I get to hear about their first day and their teachers and what they are getting involved in. When the little ones tell me about recess and what they had for lunch. When the college kids share their challenges with me and we spend time in prayer, and when the college kids share with me the first time they were able to witness to someone in a college setting. All of these things remain true, and I am so excited to watch and see and listen to all of those things. But THIS year, instead of sending my oldest kiddo off to preschool, I am sending him to the BIG Kindergarten. What a transition this has been.
We have talked a LOT about what this year will hold. And MOST of the time Liam has shared with me how excited he is, and how he can’t wait to go to kindergarten. He wants to ride the bus, BUT mommy wants to drive him. He can’t wait to be a big kid. And when I ask him to stop growing up, he says, “I can’t mommy, God is making me grow.” Recently, as we have approached kindergarten, his comments have changed a bit. He has asked, “mommy will kids like me at school?” Or has said, “mommy, I think I will just let you take me to school.” And my favorite, “mommy, I will really miss you while I am at school, do you think they will let me call you?”
Anxiousness, uncertainty, worry, fear of the unknown, all of these things can be the thoughts in the minds of our children/youth as they approach the first day of school. But I think there are a few wonderful things we can do to encourage them and support them.
PRAY! I challenge you to pray for AND with your kiddos daily. There is power in our prayer. And there is power in our kids seeing us pray. Any worry you have or your child has can be consumed by prayer. Any obstacle your child faces, any hurdle in their path can be overcome through prayer. Prayer is powerful.
COMMUNICATE. Talk with your child, learn about their day and what they are experiencing, so if there is something that is challenging them, you can walk along side them in the midst of it. Cheer them on and remind them that you are their biggest fan.
Remind them of God’s presence in their life. Tell them to take God to school with them daily. Encourage them to understand that God is ALWAYS by their side. That God will NEVER leave them or forsake them. And that with God ALL things are possible. That NOTHING can separate them from God.
Be present, show interest in every detail, because some day those moments will be a memory. Help them to understand how important and special they are to you and to God. Send them special notes in their lunchboxes, put notes in their folders, remind them that you are their with them and so is God.
Remind them to be kind and to show love. Remind them to be an example of Jesus to their classmates, their teachers and all they interact with. Remind them that they are not too young to make a difference. That they can change someones day and encourage those around them.
In the midst of all of this, know that we are praying too. That we are covering your student and YOU in prayer as this new school year begins. You are doing a great job and you are loved by us, your children and most importantly by God who loves YOU without condition.
Don’t forget, this Sunday, we will be praying over all of our children and youth – preschool through college – during the 9:30 service. We ask that they bring their backpacks with them to Sunday school and we will bring them all in towards the end of the service. We want to send them off knowing that we are praying for them and that God is with them. And Sunday night we have some fun planned for them too, from 5-7 join us for the back 2 school bash!