The weather is starting to cool, school is beginning, and it’s only a matter of time until the leaves change color! Yet as life seems to roll on we still are dealing with the frustrations and complications of life in the midst of stay at home orders, social distancing, and maybe even some heightened anxieties. I want my Newsletter article to not only have a practical component this month, but also a greater emphasis on encouraging you parents! This is a stressful and trying time. No matter how many lists I can think of or “4 ways to read the Bible with you children” advice pieces I can formulate, that doesn’t change the overwhelming sense of uncertainty I see around us or the added stresses you all may be enduring. After all, Stokes county and Forsyth county are both online for the first nine weeks! That is such a huge pressure for you as parents and a significant strain on our family systems. So I want to try and give some insight into helping establish new family habits to accommodate and totally new lifestyle. But before that, I want to share my heart, as more and more I see how difficult it must be to parent and lead in these circumstance.
I want to share what is ultimately one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and what I often turn to when life seems to be increasingly out of control, stressful, and disorienting. Turn with me to Job chapter 38. To set up context a little bit, Job is in the extreme throes of grief. He’s lost everything: wealth, lifestyle, family, health, etc. His friends seem interested in helping but ultimately only serve to judge and condemn Job of some hidden sin. Job’s own wife calls of him to abandon this God who has seemingly abandoned him. The wrong interpretation here is to say we don’t have a right to be stressed because certainly Job goes through something worse: instead we see a clear picture of God’s children being able to cry out in frustration and grief to him! Job certainly comes from a place of deep loss, but in our own moments of aggravation, fear, and uncertainty, surely we can echo the cries of Job and ask God what is His plan for us is! And God, out of the whirlwind, answers Job, with a rebuke, but ultimately an incredible picture of God’s Sovereignty and Power: “Where were you when I established the earth?” (38:4) “Who enclosed the sea…” (38:8) “Do you give strength to the horse?” (39:19) Then God calls on Job: “Adorn yourself with majesty and splendor” (40:10) God compares all of creation to Job and points out the insignificance of humanity. Job, out of profound humility, recognizes the beauty of God’s words, and the majesty there. After all, if this were the only piece of Scripture we had, we might assume God values other aspects of creation over us or delights in lording His might over us. But with a holistic view of Scripture, we are reminded of the verse that says God feeds and cares for sparrows, the lowliest of birds: how much more does he care for us? (Matthew 6:26) God’s power is beyond our imagination and for our own well being! God has complete control and sovereignty! The glimpse Job gives us into the magnitude of God ought to be so encouraging for us to revel in how mighty or God is because that is the very God fighting for us! While that may not seem directly applicable to the parent juggling work, homeschooling, shifting rules and standards, kids are fighting, etc., but ultimately this is a fundamental shift in how we ought to see ourselves, as best articulated in Romans 8:37: in this world, we are more than conquerors. We are children of the living God, co-heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven, and we can live boldly in hope and joy!
So with that encouragement, let me suggest three expectations families should set to help the return to school be as seamless and manageable as possible!
1. Schedules. When our children and students know what to expect and have routines, this creates larger systems of accountability and structure! Bringing our children into this can create a sense of ownership as they have a hadn’t in establishing a schedule, they will build confidence as the keep to the standards they’ve helped set, and it creates clear goals and expectations!
2. Personal Study/Prayer. As families, we want to consistently worship and study together, but cultivating in our children the discipline and desire to regularly spend time reading God’s Word and Praying, we demonstrating the value that God’s Word has in our life! As children what they want to study, set reading goals, verse memorizations, etc., to push our children deeper into their love for God’s Word.
3. Habits of Worship. This is something that God is increasingly showing me the value of. Finding moments of worship as a family can be difficult, so setting expectations for when our families are going to gather for worship, not only on Sundays, but maybe even having moments throughout the week where we sing praises to God, share our highs and lows together, and spend time in prayer before God as family.
These are just three ideas of ways that we can establish some habits together that aim at combating the stress and anxiety that seems so prevalent around us! IF there is anything more I can do for you please don’t hesitate to give me a call! I am praying for y’all!