Praying Your Kids Through the 2020-2021 School Year

September is here and it’s pretty weird. I don’t know about you, but for me, this year has felt like it has flown by and lasted forever all at the same time (and I’m not even sure how that’s possible). Here in Burleson, our schools are starting off the year this week. COVID-19 has completely changed how schools will be operating this year. Some students will be learning virtually completely from home, some will be in class on campuses, and others will be attending school both in-person and online. Even families who have always homeschooled their children are having to make adjustments this year. With all of the new procedures and policies put in place, it’s no wonder that kids, parents, teachers, and administrators have been feeling some stress and anxiety from starting this year.

As I have been praying for all of the teachers I know, my kids at church as they start back to school, and the parents that are learning how to deal with all of this, God has been revealing a few main points of prayer. I wanted to share them with you.

  1. Pray for guidance.
    All of us are navigating through uncharted territories right now – especially those involved in the school system in any capacity. Parents, one way you can be praying your kids through this year is to ask the Lord for guidance. Seek Him and what He has planned for your family, instead of focusing only on what you want your school year to look like. Listen for the Holy Spirit’s promptings in your day to day lives. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, and so many others have had to make difficult decisions already. There will be more hard decisions to make in the future, but take comfort in knowing you do not have to make them alone. Psalm 105:4 says “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” God will guide you as you look to Him.
    No matter how the children in your life are attending school this year, they are looking to you for direction. This means it is imperative to be pointing them to Christ and looking to Him yourself for guidance. There are tons of people throwing out advice right now (including me!), and while a lot of the advice you’re given might be great, it is important to look at everything through the lens of the Bible. Base the decisions you make about school and your children on what God is speaking to you through His word and your time spent in prayer.

  2. Pray that God would grant you more grace and patience in this season.
    Everyone needs a little extra grace and patience this year. Parents, this means you too. Give yourself grace as you juggle working and teaching your child at home. Give yourself grace when your family doesn’t stick to the routine or schedule at all. Give yourself grace when you order pizza for dinner again because you are too exhausted to think about cooking. Be patient with yourself. Ask God to help you focus your time and energy where it is most needed. Give yourself grace and ask the Lord to help you do so.
    Secondly, it is also important to pray for grace for the children in your lives. Ask the Lord to help you give them grace when they fail. Pray for patience when they are struggling with something at school. Your children are learning new concepts in entirely new environments.
    Finally, pray for grace and patience for the teachers and administrators this year. Remember that they are all navigating the same uncertain territories as your family. Some teachers are having to teach virtually when they have never done so before. Some are having to teach both online and in person simultaneously. Some are teaching in a classroom full of children, trying to keep everyone safe and healthy while helping them learn something. Ask the Lord to help you have grace and patience with the teachers in your child’s life.

  3. Pray for the health and safety of your kids.
    As we all keep learning how to live with this virus, it is important to continually be praying for the health and safety of the kids in our lives. There is power in prayer, and God is bigger than COVID-19. This pandemic has not come as a surprise to Him, and He is still in control of it all. One of the most powerful ways that you can protect your children is to pray for them.
    Praying God’s protection over your kids does not guarantee they won’t ever get sick or nothing bad will ever happen to them, but it does help prepare you to be able to handle trials when they arise. By staying in tune with the Holy Spirit, you will be better able to take on the uncertainties that this year has to offer.

Your kids need you to pray for them. They are learning how to pray and follow God as they watch you. Take a breath, pray, and trust that God has complete control over the 2020-2021 school year. While this year might not be what we are all used to, I truly believe that God is moving and working through it all.
To all of my parent, grandparent, teacher, and administrator friends – I am praying for you and I love you! I’m also praying for the precious children in your lives. You’ve all got this because God’s got you. I’d love to hear from you. How else are you praying for your kids this year? Is there anything specific for you or your family that I can be praying for?

Many Differences, One Image – Helping Children See the Beauty in Others

I love watching my two-year-old, Sutton, interact with other kids. She loves other people, especially when they are her size. When we are out in public and she sees another child, she normally will say to me, “Look mommy! A friend!” Everyone is her friend and it’s precious. The best part about her “friends” is that there are no qualifications for being a friend. She doesn’t care if another child is a boy or girl; black, brown, or white; rich or poor. All she wants is a friend to play and explore with. This is really all any child wants. They don’t care about what someone else looks like. Kids just want to be friends. As I have been reflecting on everything going on in our world lately, God has been using my daughter’s sweet spirit to remind me of His design for mankind. God desires for us to love each other, and not just the people who look like us. We should be seeing every person as a valuable image-bearer of the Father. As Christians, we are called to treat everyone with the kindness and compassion that Christ would – especially when they are different than us.

Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are all created in God’s image. Every single person is a reflection of the Almighty Creator. Even though there are many differences between us, when it comes down to our very being – who we are at the core – we all bear one image – God’s. The most important way we can reflect God’s image is in our love for one another. When we love others regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, social status, etc., we are showing our children what it means to love like God does.

Our world has been in such a heavy, dark place lately. If you read my last blog post, you know that I am no longer content with being silent when it comes to the unfair treatment of our darker-skinned brothers and sisters. I have learned that simply not being racist isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to say that I love everyone. My actions have to reflect that love. I have to do more and I have to start in my own home. I have to continue to foster my daughter’s love for all people. I have to answer her questions about why some people look different than we do when she asks them. I have to provide an example of what it means to speak out against injustice. I have to show her that our differences have been given to us by God and they are to be celebrated. Friends, we have to be aware of what we are teaching our children about others. Whether you realize it or not, you are teaching the children in your life how to view and value others. They are watching and listening to how you treat and talk about other people.

In working with young children for over 10 years, and now having a daughter of my own, I am convinced that humans are not born hating one another. We are not born with prejudice and bigotry in our hearts. These are attitudes that are taught and learned. Racist adults have not always been that way – they were once innocent children who liked everyone. Somewhere along the way, someone else’s racist remarks began to take root, and they adopted those beliefs as their own.

Think about your very first childhood friend. Why were they your friend? Chances are, it wasn’t because they looked a certain way. They were probably your friend because you had common interests or shared the same spaces. Now, as adults, we tend to make it so much more complicated. We have to see people for who they are as a person, rather than just the color of their skin. When we decide that someone is not worth knowing just by looking at them, we lose. We miss out on everything that that person has to offer. We could miss out on some truly amazing friendships and relationships. These are all things that we need to be teaching to the children in our lives.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., there are many ways that you can help your kids love people who look different than them. Read books and watch TV shows with character diversity, talk about different cultures and ethnicities rather than only focusing on your own, and celebrate God’s creativity reflected in us. I want to challenge you to intentionally focus on how you are encouraging your kids to love others this week. When your children see someone, are you helping them to look at who that person is in Christ – beyond what they look like on the outside? Last week, I made a promise to do better. Part of this promise will be intentionally encouraging my daughter to love others and to be thankful for all of our differences. I pray that by starting in my own home, I might be able to make a bigger difference in the world. I pray that Sutton will one day see a world where there is no racism, and that future generations will truly understand what it means to love others as Christ loves. I hope you’ll join me in praying for these things.