Whether you are a parent sending your firstborn child off to kindergarten, an old-timer seeing off your last child to college, or even someone who has no children, we all can remember the feeling of the first day back to school. We can feel the buzz around our community with fundraisers to fill backpacks or help teachers out, stores with promotions for back-to-school supplies. Everyone seems to be celebrating or waiting in great expectation for the first day of school to begin.
Today on my morning walk I passed many young people holding their parents hands as they walked to school. Some children looked nervous, some were skipping with joy, some were tired, and all the parents had big smiles on their faces. There were several parents grinding their teeth as they tried to get their chid to pose just right for the back to school picture.The line of cars was long, but no one was in a hurry this August morning. Buses could be heard as the windows were down releasing the noises of the children's laughter.
These were all great sounds to me this morning. I was rested and able to enjoy breathing normally again. Yesterday was my last drop off to college of my three sons, Nothing went terribly wrong, but nothing went totally as planned either. Every morning I am desperate for God to show up and show off. I spoke aloud to God, "Thank you for these trials and difficulties you are handing me this week Lord. I just wonder, Lord, why I can't seem to make my plans ever work? However, would I be worshipping you right now if I were comfortable and everything were going my way?" It is hard for me to start the day off when it is still dark to praise the Lord, but that is what I eventually began doing before my feet hit the floor. The only thing that spoke back to my spirit that morning was a feeling that these trials are not so much for me but for my sons. I think He wants my boys to get to experience His love and overwhelming kindness and mercies - to grow from glory to glory - like I did. Let's face it, none of us really learn much when things in our lives are going our way. It usually happens in the unexpected trials/disappointments/unmet expectations, etc. I truly do feel every day there are trials, disappointments, and things that will not go our way, but if we look closely there are usually things that happen throughout the day that also deserve a lot of praise and thanksgiving. In our Bible study last year, Rick Warren's wife used the analogy of railroad tracks side by side. Each day is going to be filled with some things that need desperate prayers and some things that deserve unbelievable praise. I am so thankful for that analogy. It has shifted how I react to the events in the day. I am constantly trying to find the good and be thankful for each blessing instead of grumbling about the things in which usually I cannot control anyway.
I have three boys and two were moving into apartments on back to back days in different cities this week. We were organized a week ago. Like many other parents we had list on top of list for what to do, what to buy, and what still needs to be done. My countertops were piled high with packed boxes and paraphernalia for several weeks. Several times throughout the week I would look at the piles and wonder how many people are able to even afford some of these essentials. That was the blessing I kept thanking God for: the ability to go to a store and buy what was needed. My oldest son and I have been working on a "fixer upper" house. This was also the week we were to get the permits approved. That project needed my attention, Just like everyone else. . . we try to juggle activities like caring for our elderly parents, doing projects for work, caring for the yard, helping our neighbors, attending to our children, and the lists keep piling up. I, of course, shared my agenda with all three of my boys and my husband about how the week was going to work and what needed to be completed as we worked through the week of back to school. Monday we had hair cut day, oil changes in their cars, and a nice meal shared together. By the time we all said goodnight, we hoped we would still like each other. We were exhausted. Tuesday my middle son and I loaded up a U-Haul, packed it at his new house, and went to get the other stuff out of storage. Then I drove the U-Haul home late in the evening that night only to pack it back up for the next boy at 9:00 am that next morning! I purposely never pulled into a spot where the U-Haul had to be turned around. I could only drive it straight through spots. So to go to the bathroom on the way over, I had to find a Walmart so I would have plenty of room to turn around and head back onto the highway. God provided an alley for me to pull into when we arrived at the apartment. That is a RARE thing on move-in day. Another blessing!
As you may have figured out the "agenda" I had in my head did not come to fruition. God constantly keeps up praying and thanking Him. If one was watching outside their windows into our garage Tuesday morning, they would tell you I was trying to be submissive, kind, and patient. I would mow a few strips of grass in between the "verbal explosions" from the boys and husband. I kept praying for me to be like Abigail in the Bible. I said the Lord's prayer many times because in the moments of conflict one will never have the
Bible in their hand. I am so thankful I knew scripture to quote and calm myself down. I'll add the scriptures to the end of this blog post.
I have been in Bible study for over 20 years now. I am so thankful to be able to send a quick text to the women when I become too overwhelmed to even know what to pray for myself. God kept the Holy Spirit speaking to me on how to take my next step. I do not like depending on Him minute by minute; however, I honestly can say that is how I have gotten through this last year. When we let go of our agendas and our expectations as to how we think the day should look and we let God take over, he just does more than we can ever think, hope, or imagine. It made me ponder how many "explosions" or tears those children had before they walked out the door to school this morning. I know we had a lot of anger, words said, frustration, and much anxiety leading up to us walking out of the U-Haul looking calm and appearing all together!
My husband and I took parenting classes, read books, and sought out advice from older friends about how they raised their children. What I realized is that there is no playbook for how to do any of it right. Each person is uniquely created and has different needs as
God intended. Psalm 139:13, NASB: "For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother's womb". In our parenting we have overlooked intangible needs more than I would like to admit. I am not sensitive; therefore, I blow over things that have been very important to one child. Interestingly, when the first son moved out into the dorm, the whole family went to help him move and say our goodbyes. It was a big ordeal. Thursday my youngest drove the truck and dumped all of his stuff, returned the truck, said goodbye and off he went. I remember dropping him off to kindergarten. He was the one who walked the longest as I shuffled out the door and prayed for the teacher. I do not know much about parenting in all of these years. We just do what we have to do in the moments, pray it is the best we can do and ask God to shake out the rest.
What I do know is that we, as parents, need to be our kiddos soft landing spot. Not for our children to do nothing, but more importantly so they can do everything they want to do or dream to do. They need to try things and see what things they like or do not like. Life is about failures. Life is about making mistakes. We mainly learn through trials. So we need our kiddos to take risks and not have us always swoop in and fix it. Most of what we learn is done through experience. So let these kids do some experiences. Your home, your family, your community should be their soft place to land. We are the place to come back to if they need a break, need advice, or need a "redo. We have to believe in the best for our children. I also think there is much wisdom in how the Jewish culture prays over ad blesses their children. Take a few minutes this week to profess blessings over each individual child and remember even if it is messy, you are doing a good job and doing the best you can. Thank the Lord for those teachers for it is good to be back to school and back to a routine.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9)
Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
If it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peacefully with all men. (Romans 12:18)
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. (Psalms 55:18)
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, (Philippians 2:2)