Back-to-School Prayer

Today was Backpack Blessing Sunday at our church. The youngest kids brought their new backpacks with them for the children’s message, and then our pastor prayed a special blessing over them before they head off to school this week.

I remember the old Staples commercial playing the song lyrics, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .” as Mom and Dad gleefully pushed their shopping cart down the aisles, tossing in pencils and notebooks as they went. The kids shuffled along miserably behind them, clearly not sharing their parents’ enthusiasm. All kidding aside, children, parents and teachers all have mixed feelings about the start of the school year. The free-spirited, spontaneous days of summer will quickly be replaced by a new bedtime, wake-up time and daily routine.

Thankfully, those days are behind me now, but I will always remember what a special time of year it was as we purchased school supplies, packed their backpacks, and visited their new classrooms. There were lunches to prepare, forms to be signed, schedules to be memorized, and locker combinations to be learned.

In addition to the classroom learning, there was a steady flow of homework, tests and projects . . . not to mention the many extracurricular activities! My children didn’t have their own computers until college, or their own cell phones until high school. (Those were still the days of flip phones!) Tablets and ipads had not been invented yet, and Promethean boards were just being introduced into our high schools.

Many young children today have their own laptops and smart phones, creating distractions and dangers that my kids never faced. Parents have to be extra vigilant in an age of growing dangers, including online predators, human trafficking, drug abuse, and viral “challenges” that tempt kids to accept and record various dares, all in an attempt to have it go viral. And it hurts my heart to add to this list — school shootings and suicide.

Oh, we have so much to pray for!

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:11-14

With all this in mind, here is my Back-to-School Prayer:

Lord, I pray that you will lovingly watch over each child, and that they will . . .

  • be protected and feel safe in their learning environments
  • be filled with a desire to learn new things each day
  • be open to ideas, opinions and cultures that sometimes differ from their own
  • be a friend to the friendless and those who are bullied
  • be free to explore their creative ideas and express them in a meaningful way
  • be able to resist peer pressure that might cause them to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others
  • be respectful, courteous, and helpful to their teachers and school staff
  • be proactive and seek wise counsel if  they, or one of their peers, ever feels anxious, depressed or confused

I invite you to use this list as a starting point for your Back-to-School prayers this week, and add to it throughout the year. Ask your children what you might add to this list, and encourage them to pray with you.

Rest assured, the Lord is listening, and He loves all His children unconditionally and guards them safely throughout their day. Have a wonderful school year!

Learning Curve

One of my few regrets in life is that I never went to college. Sure, I would have loved to have that opportunity, but it wasn’t a huge priority for me or for my parents. Over the years though, I’ve never had trouble finding a job, and if I didn’t have the skills I needed, I just learned them along the way.

In the early 80’s, I didn’t experience the pressure to attend college as kids do today. In my mind, college was optional. Trade schools were widely available, but were generally considered an alternative to college, usually reserved for kids with the the lower GPAs. The only alternative schools/trades I ever heard about were cosmetology and auto mechanics.

In today’s competitive world, it is expected that kids will attend college. We expected our two kids to attend college, and they both did, but neither were really using that expensive education in a career . . . until now.

Three years post-graduation with an Art degree (her third, and final major), our daughter is moving into a trade. She is becoming a welder! It’s a skill she tried briefly in one of her college art courses, but it remained in the back of her mind until she grew tired of the retail industry. At the age of 26, she is joining a trade that up until now has been strictly male-dominated. She’ll be learning a valuable, and highly marketable skill. If you do your research you will find that plenty of other women are jumping into the trades too. We’re very proud of her!

I have had many people tell me that I can still go to college. It’s never too late, right? I’ve pondered that thought and wondered what I might study in my retirement.

Seven years ago while on vacation in California wine country, we had the opportunity to dine at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). It was amazing! Everything was prepared by the students, from the table setting, meal preparation and presentation, to the wine pairing and dessert menu. My description of this main course of garden vegetable risotto (pictured) was simply one word: bliss.

Ever since that vacation, and another visit to the CIA in Hyde Park, NY, I have secretly wanted to be a chef. I received a gift of The Great Courses The Joy of Mediterranean Cooking, and have become a huge fan of Chef Bill Briwa, an instructor from the California CIA who guides this course. My goal is to visit the two remaining CIA locations in San Antonio, TX, and recently discovered (as of 2 minutes ago) Singapore location.

My fall-back majors would be Genealogy and Ornithology, in that order. I’ll probably hold off on submitting any applications though until college tuition is free for seniors. 😉

I chose Psalm 32:8 as my featured verse for this post because it really sums up my life to this point. The Lord has lovingly provided me with so many opportunities — career and more — as well as the skills needed to complete every task. Adding a college degree may or may not be part of His future plans for me, but I am always eager to learn something new!