Praying On the First Day of School

First Grade Messenger Photo 1967 - Copy

My picture in the local paper before I started 1st Grade.

It’s hard to believe the first day of school is here.  It feels like yesterday I wrote about the last day of school.

Today as I dropped my grandchildren off for their first days in fourth grade and in kindergarten, I prayed for their safety as well as the safety of their schools and buses. I, also, prayed for each of their teachers by name as well as the bus drivers by name.

Do you pray for your children, their schools, and teachers? Our children are growing up in a world of increasing violence.  When I attended school, I never feared a gunman might enter the school and kill children, yet that is our normal.  So I pray…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7

I started praying for my granddaughter, Victoria, when she was in kindergarten. Her brother, Amari, started kindergarten today and has the same wonderful teachers his sister had.  I have hazy memories of kindergarten, but it was a fun and happy time.  I pray his kindergarten year will be fun, too.

Victoria is now in fourth grade.  I have memories of all my school years, but I have many more from the fourth grade and beyond than the earlier years.  I had Mrs. Christenberry, a friend of our family and the same teacher my older sister and brother had.  I really began to love school that year.  I hope Victoria does the same.

Last June, I shared my prayer frame with my readers, but, so you don’t have to jump back to that post, I’m sharing it again.  I pray this for all of my grandchildren and family members (immediate and distant) who work on school properties. It’s important to me to do this every day.  After I pray, I feel I can move on with my day.

If you don’t have a loved one attending or working in a school, then pray for the nearest schools or your neighbor’s family members.

Here is my prayer:

Our heavenly father, today I lift up [the name of the school] before you and ask your protection over this school. Do not let anyone or anything that would cause harm or evil to cross over the borders, boundaries, or threshold of this school.  Please be with the faculty, staff, administration, volunteers, and students and bless them with patience and caring for their students. Lord especially, I lift up [teachers’ names and others who have contact with my children] and ask a special blessing upon them. Amen.

When I started praying this prayer, I chose to protect the borders, boundaries, and thresholds of the schools.  You might wonder why I used those terms instead of praying for hedges of protection.  The borders cover the boundary lines around the school property, the threshold protects the interior of the school, and the boundaries protect it from above and below.  Hedges, to me, never satisfied all of the potential directions harm can strike at the school.

The important point is not how you pray, it’s that you PRAY.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thess. 5:16-18

 

Prayer on the Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school for my grandchildren, Victoria and Amari. Since they came to live with us last September, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. We’ve dealt with courts, attorneys, caseworkers, a guardian ad litem, day cares, teachers, principals, after school programs, and many others during this journey.

Today as they left, I sat down and prayed for their safety as well as the safety of their schools and buses. I, also, prayed for each of their teachers by name as well as the bus drivers by name.  I have done this for several years, even when they didn’t live with us. Today, it brought tears to my eyes. A school year is over, and all of these people have helped me provide a caring environment as they adjusted to the upheaval of the world as they know it. I will always be indebted to them.

Do you pray for your children, their schools, and teachers?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I started praying for Victoria when she was in kindergarten. She lived with us for a few months that year. I hate to admit that I didn’t start the year doing this. It took the tragedy at Sandy Hook to make me wake up and realize that schools are not the safe haven they once were. My children had not been in the public schools by the time of Columbine, so the events jarred me but didn’t wake me to action. Now I know differently.

Today, Victoria finishes third grade.  On Awards Day she received awards for all A’s, the highest average in Science, Excellence in Art, 2nd Place in the PTA Photography Reflections Contest, and a Reading Award.

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Amari finishes 4K today. He’s come a long way with several challenges on his plate involving delayed development, but yesterday at his end of year celebration, he received the Math Counting Scholar award.

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

I have hazy memories of kindergarten, but it was a fun and happy time. I will continue to pray next year as Amari and Victoria and my other grandchildren grow and progress.

Do you pray for your children and grandchildren? If you don’t, let me share with you the framework of my prayer:

Our heavenly father, today I lift up [the name of the school] before you and ask your protection over this school. Do not let anyone or anything that would cause harm or evil cross over the borders, the boundaries, or the threshold of this school.  Please be with the faculty, staff, administration, volunteers, and students and bless them with patience and caring for their students. Lord especially, I lift up [teachers’ names and others who have contact with my children] and ask a special blessing upon them. Amen.

Sometimes, I say more. Sometimes, I don’t. But every day they head off to school, I pray for them and those I entrust with their care.

Using Your Passion to Give Back to God

cropped-barbara-evers-2-finalrt2.jpgOne of the challenges I’ve faced while writing this blog has been demonstrating a balance between explaining the crises in my life and sharing the blessings. No matter what the crisis, I know my life led me to my faith.  I wouldn’t change a thing, but I wouldn’t want to repeat any of it, either.

I’m a better person because of what I went through and have lived a fulfilled life, so far.

I didn’t remarry for twelve years after my divorce although I seriously dated two people.  They didn’t work out, and I’ve realized that’s a good thing.  If someone is not right for you, you don’t want to spend your life with them. God knew what I needed, and I eventually found the right man.

In the meantime, I established many friendships, discovered truths about myself, and found ways to reach out to others who suffered in ways I had.

Believe it or not, I got a job because of my story. Most job interviews don’t include conversations about your experience as a pregnant teen leading to an early marriage, a divorce due to domestic violence, and the struggles of single parenting.  That’s definitely not the information you want to share, unless it applies to the job.  In my case it did.  I got a job directing a welfare-to-work training program thanks to my background. This happened ten years after my divorce. My story got me the job, not my degree and work experience. I’ve often thought about how God’s timing works, and how He takes the messes we make of our lives and uses them to help others.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

When welfare law changed, I moved from the non-profit world to corporate training.  Thanks to that one job, I discovered my passion:  helping others achieve success in their lives.

If it hadn’t been for the trials and hardships in my life, I might never have found my career.

Training others increased my opportunities to speak to groups, and over time, I found ways to share my story with church groups.  Except for the urban league position, for many years I didn’t discuss my sordid history with others.  The people I knew then didn’t know about my background, so it frightened me to lay it all out there. The first time I shared my story in a church setting, I felt ill, but I discovered that people appreciated it.  They needed to see me, a professional woman who had gone through the fire and come out stronger. By telling my story, I gave them hope.

Most trainers and speakers write, and writing was my passion from an early age, so it wasn’t a reach for me to start this blog. This blog isn’t the only thing I’ve written, but it has been the hardest. The spoken word can be forgotten. The written word lasts. I know I’m helping thanks to the people who comment either here or to me directly. Someone might discover my posts a year or two from now and find the hope or the courage they need to take that first step toward faith and a better life.

Sharing my story has become one of the most significant acts I can give to my Lord.

Do you have a significant act (or acts) that gives back to God? It doesn’t have to be huge, it just needs to glorify Him and reach out to others while doing so.

I would love for you to share your significant acts in the comments.  If you don’t think you have one, ask someone who knows you well. You might discover you are providing something without even trying. If you still don’t think you are, then it might be time to look at your passions and find a way to use them for His glory.