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Posts Tagged ‘#backtoschool’

In our neck of the woods, today is the day!

The day that summer break ends and school begins.

The new clothes are donned, the lunch kit doesn’t yet have that funky odor, the knapsack packed with binders, pencils and calculators (as one who spends her work days helping students with math, please buy them a calculator if they are in high school … there are only so many one can acquire in her desk drawer).

There is excitement in the air, as all things are new, fresh.

With this beginning of school there are so many other clubs, teams, lessons etc. that are also resuming.

Now is when students and parents are signing up for these extracurricular activities, with great anticipation of competitions, skills development and new learning.

And that is a good and fun part of all of these activities,

but …

Parents, there is something else that kids need. They need it this school year, but they also need it so that they grow to be healthy, well-balanced adults.

It’s margin … and it has little to do with money investments (although … there is certainly an investment angle to it).

Margin is best described in comparison to the margins we leave when writing on a piece of paper. We do not begin writing at the very top left corner of a piece of paper and continue to the bottom right. Instead we write in the middle, leaving a space, a margin, around our writing.

This is good writing practise … it is also a good life practise.

Parents, consider ensuring that there is margin around the to-dos in your kids days. Not just margin for sleeping and eating, but margin for exploration, discovery, wonder. Green therapy (being outdoors), playing board games together, reading a book, baking cookies, playing road hockey, taking the pooch for a walk.

These are the elements in a day that can refill their cups, instill the practise of life learning, remind them of one greater than them. It can give their brains time to rest, time to grow.

This margin is not to sit and just stare, solo, at a screen. It is time in their schedules to explore, to breath, to be nourished by the greater things, the things that lead us to contemplate, to ponder, to talk to God.

This margin will actually give your kids more … more energy, more productivity, more creativity, more capacity to learn, to live.

You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!

Haggai 1:6

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Back to school is always a paradox of excitement and anxiety. This year, this 2020 September … in the midst of a pandemic … there might just be more anxiety than excitement.

Returning to work in a secondary school, last week, I found myself less anxious as I leaned into the F-word that needs to be the focus of the school year … flexibility. I also gained strength by praying … for the administration, for colleagues, for the students and their parents.

Prayer is our best back to school tool. It reminds us that we are not in control, but we know who is and that he doesn’t leave us in our time of need, our time of anxiety.

Prayer gives us a place to speak our fears, to name them, to be real.

Prayer gives us an amen … meaning ‘so be it’ or ‘truth’. It is the release of our burden … not just the giving of our worry and concern to God, but trusting him with our prayer (ie. not taking it back).

So … let’s pray for this school year:

God,

We come to you, acknowledging that you are God … we are not, Coronavirus is not … only you are God and you are God over everything.

God our kids (we) are starting a new school year and we confess that we might be allowing worry to control us. We confess that we have given far too much attention and time to social media and it has left us anxious, even hopeless. We confess that we often look first to those in government, in education to calm our fears. Lord we give the things that cause us to be anxious to you. We seek you first for confidence, for protection, for comfort.

We also seek your leading, for some are unsure about their return to school. There are staff, students, or family members at home with compromised immune systems, or pre-existing conditions that make us unsure about the wisdom of returning to school. Please, Lord, guide and lead those who are unsure. Lead them to their physicians who can help them make the best decision for themselves, their children and those they love. And Lord, if they choose to not return, help the rest of us to embrace them in their personal decision.

There is such anxiety about the start of this school year, Lord. There are those who may be frozen with fear. Bring them reminders of peace and comfort. Bring your people to them, to embrace and encourage them where they are, but also who will walk them through the fear to a place of ease.

May we, who follow you, hold tightly to you, so that we can be beacons of your love to those around us.

Thank-you that you give to us a spirit of power, and love, and a sound mind … those are your gifts to us (the evil one brings fear). With our sound minds we can make the decisions that are best for those we love. With the power from you, we can be confident in our decisions. With love we can make decisions based on what is best for not just we and those we love but for those around us … and in doing so, we are your hands and feet.

May we encourage those who are returning (or have already returned) to work in classrooms. May we hold up in prayer to you those who will be cleaning, teaching, administrating, assisting students in our schools. May we be like Aaron and Hur for Moses, holding his hands high in the midst of Joshua’s battle … holding school staff up to God as they battle for educating in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

God, we give this school year to you. We give the families represented, the school staff, those who sit in tall buildings making decisions about education and safety … to you. And we walk in faith that you will not leave us alone in the path ahead of us.

Amen … and amen.

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IMG_4307A lifetime of the day following the Labor Day weekend signalling the beginning of a new school year simply reinforces my belief that this is the second new year of the year.

There’s the new paper and pens, the new clothes, routine changes, shorter days and goals-setting. There’s a distinctive chill in the air in the mornings and we all know that pumpkin everything is about to flood the market.

I love that it is a second chance to start fresh in the year (not that we can’t do that any day). I love that, with the end of summer break and beginning of school, there is also a season change, a rhythmic change to our lives.

Daniel (2:21a) tells us, “He (God) changes times and seasons.”

And here we have a new season, a fresh start, a new beginning.

The words from the Psalms have been on my mind as I approach this second new year. They are the words of David, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

I love how this message is communicated in The Message:

“God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.”

A Genesis week … that so communicates a brand new start, an ‘in the beginning’ experience! What an opportunity that is as a new season, a new school year begins.

So lets start this second new year off with a Genesis week mindset, this is the freshest of fresh starts, for this is the beginning … and there is so much hope in that!

 

 

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For twenty years the first Tuesday of September has been a first day of school for our household.

Though I have smiled broadly, while passing back to school supplies in stores, we do still have a daughter in part time studies, as well as myself and two daughters going back to school as a workplace.

So, we pray:

God, who oversees all, and is in all,

Thank-you for the freedom and ability to learn, whether it is to learn how to greet a person or how to perform the most challenging mathematically problem.

Thank-you for the transportation to get to school, whether it is a sidewalk, a car pool parent, or a faithful bus driver.

Thank-you for the buildings, the infrastructure where we can learn, whether a centuries-old university, a classroom in a portable, or the dining room table.

Thank-you for water fountains from which to drink, bathrooms cleaned by humble hands and entrances that are monitored for safety.

Thank-you for those who teach, whether the one called teacher, coach, EA or student.

Thank-you for those who oversee learning, whether they be administration, a board of education or the administrative assistants (who really run the schools).

Thank-you for peers, whether they show us how to live, or how not to.

Thank-you for sports, art, music, drama, automotive and woodworking, and how they bring balance to our lives, both in and after school.

Lord,

may we rely on you when we are successful and struggling.

may we seek to make our world, our neighbourhood and our classrooms better places.

may you guide us to look out for each other, to protect each other, to love each other, as you love us.

May we work hard, play hard and love hard … all year long.

Amen

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The first week of school is full of beginnings, big and small.

There’s new teachers, new classes, new expectations … new shoes!

For most students (and school staff, for that matter), showing up may seem small, but it can be the biggest thing!

There are assemblies, course outlines, going over rules, and even a short week.

It can seem as though there is not much happening, not much being accomplished, but these small beginnings are not insignificant.

As I was reading commentaries on Zechariah 4:10, I felt more productive in the small beginnings of my own week.

In the Pulpit Commentary, I read that the small things that were being referred to were actually promises of what is to come, therefore what is being declared is actually more like, “can any one, after these promises and prophecies, presume to be doubtful about the future?”

And that is what small beginnings often are, promises and prophesies of what is to come. These small beginnings are actually the ground level, the foundation on which a year of learning, growing and maturing are built.

So do not despise the baby steps that begin this journey … they are the birth of our momentum.

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