Last week the day that I had been waiting for finally came. It had been 530 days since my kids came home from school. Those 530 days were some of the best and some of the most challenging days of my life. But last week, it was time to start a new chapter. They were going back to school, but not to their old one. We had decided to try a new school in our community.
As the days got closer and closer to the start of school, my kids were over the top excited. The first day of school morning felt bigger than Christmas morning with anticipation. I know that not every child felt this way about returning to school after being home for so long, but mine were thrilled.
The morning came, a big breakfast was served, healthy lunches were packed and first day of school pictures were taken. Before I knew it, we were saying goodbye as they hopped out of the car door and ran into the building.
Just like that, a chapter had closed and a new one began.
Even with all the excitement, there were certainly feelings of fear and anxiety from them and for them. They were starting a new school, knowing only a few people; it would be a new routine for our family; and we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
In order to work through my own feelings and also help my children with theirs, I am doing four practical things every day to give them not only a strong kick start to the day, but also a way for them to walk through and finish the day well. I hope these are things that you may find helpful for your own family.
1. Pray. I know, you are probably saying, “Duh!” but this is so important that I had to say it. Mark Batterson writes, “Make sure the heavenly father hears about your kids every day.” This is not only for them, but for you. If I start my day by bringing my children before the Lord and reminding myself that they are safer in His hands than mine, then all things go better. I am able to take the weight from my shoulders and let Him carry the load.
I wrote more about this topic in two posts, “Big Picture Praying for my Kids” and “Nitty Gritty Prayers for my Kids” if you’d like some more specifics on how I frame my prayers.
Praying anchors me and them to the One who is in control of it all.
2. Write Notes. When I was young, my mom would leave me notes pretty frequently. Sometimes it was in my lunch box, sometimes on my bed, sometimes in my car. I still have some of those notes because even though they were often just on a sticky note or a scrap piece of paper, her notes anchored my soul to who I truly was. Loved. Cherished. Daughter. Kind. Smart. Beautiful. One whom Christ loves and one in whom Christ dwells.
The world is a loud and endless voice that tries to overtake our thinking. I don’t want the world to have a voice as to who my children are. I want Christ to be that voice. And since Christ lives in me, I want to be that voice.
When my kids come down in the morning, I remind them of who they are by whispering it into their ears. No matter how many times I say that they are loved, they are amazing, they are smart, they are funny, they are a great friend, they are kind, they are beautiful or handsome, that I am proud of them, their face always lights up. They need to hear that affirmation so that Christ in me is reminding them of who they are.
Writing them notes is a way that I can remind them of who they are when they open their lunchbox in the middle of the day without me having to be there.
Writing notes anchors them to who Christ says they are.
3. Blessing. A few years ago, I was listening to a podcast, which I highly recommend, “Let’s Parent on Purpose,” and the host, Jay Holland, talked about speaking a blessing over his children before they left for school each day. I loved the idea so I took the blessing that he had suggested, printed it and pinned it to our front door. Now, every morning before we leave, we gather around the door and we speak this blessing out over each other. It is a way that we all can connect together through connecting with our Lord. It is a Celtic blessing taken from the Morning Office in Celtic Daily Prayer by the Northumbria Community. I pray that it blesses you as it has our family.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Saying a blessing as a family anchors us all to each other and to our Lord.
4. Mantra. After saying the blessing together, we say our family mantra. To hear more about our mantra, I wrote about it in the post, “My Name Is…”. Just like my daily prayers for my children, writing notes to them and speaking the blessing over them, saying our mantra every day is a way to connect them to the truth, reminding them of who they are in Christ. My hope and prayer is that when they feel the ache of living in this world, whatever it looks like for them in that moment, they will be drawn back to the loving arms of Christ by hearing and feeling this mantra within their souls.
“My name is _______, born to Meredith and Phillip Read. I am a daughter/son of the King, the Most High God. I am fully known, fully forgiven, and fully loved by Him. I will rejoice for God is good.”
Saying our mantra anchors my children to where they have come from and who they are because of what Christ has done for them.
The more we pray for our kids and take the opportunities to remind them of who they are in Christ – loved, cherished, forgiven, known, redeemed, accepted, sealed, child of God, beloved – the better our world will be because we will have helped anchor their souls to the truth, Christ.
God, bless our children.