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Getting through every season of life

Children going back to school

Back-to-school time is exciting but can also produce anxiety. Beth Pelkey, Northern Skies Co-District Lay Leader, shares some creative ways we can help our friends and neighbors.

Northern Skies Co-District Lay Leader

Oh, how I love living in Northern Michigan in the summer. Well, second only to Northern Michigan in the fall. Both times of the year are wonderful to experience. September, in particular, has the best of both worlds — sunny, warm days and cool evenings with a hint of what will come in just a few weeks.

Something else that is right around the corner (or, for some, may have already started) is the new school year. As a mother and grandmother, I have always found this to be an exciting time of year. A new beginning. Old friendships renewed. Many other feelings are coming to the surface at this time of year. For some, it’s a joyous time. For others, it can be quite scary. For a young parent, it can be the firstborn going off to school for the first time. For older parents, sending their young adults off to college can be worrisome.

How can we plan for something like this? How do we make sure our children are okay on this new adventure? How do we make sure we are okay on this new adventure? Honestly, if it’s the first time or the twentieth time, there’s always some trepidation with a new school year. First, it’s so busy! You’re trying to get everything needed for the year, finish up camps, get in that last vacation, and then try to anticipate a variety of unknowns that might pop up. So, what can we do to get through this?

It is good to pause and remember that God is always with us, no matter what we are living through. God is there with us in the excitement, the joy, the worry, the fear, whatever emotions we’re feeling. As Guideposts author Julia Attaway writes, “The what-ifs in life only have power over me when I forget what-is: God is with us.” She continues, “There will always be unknowns. There will always be things outside my control. There will always be bumps in the road. Whatever comes, I will deal with it with God’s help.” Even as we open our Bibles to the first book, Genesis 28:15 says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go” (NIV). If that’s not comforting, I’m not sure what else is.

So far, I’ve been speaking internally about our lives, our families, and our feelings that come about with the start of something new. But how does this affect our community, particularly our faith community? What we can do is get involved in making sure this is as smooth a transition as possible. Many churches and organizations have backpack giveaways, back-to-school bashes, or other fun things to celebrate the beginning of a new school year. How can we support our families in our community for this sometimes-scary, sometimes-frustrating time? It doesn’t have to be for those who don’t always have the resources to manage this issue, whether financially, physically, or mentally. It can be for anyone celebrating or coping with this upcoming event.

The other day, I ran into a young man I know in a big-box store. I was purchasing items for our own ice cream social/school supply giveaway. He was looking at the “need list” from the school for his three young girls. It was daunting — times three! Of course, I invited him to our event, even though he lives miles away from our church. He thought it sounded fun and would be a good adventure for his family. I hope to see them there.

I know of another small community church in the area with an annual “Back to School Bash” that has turned into a “Family Fun Day,” including a magic show. What a way to celebrate and relieve some of those jitters that always happen this time of year!

Because many churches and organizations have a school supply giveaway, sometimes we need to think outside the box. That’s exactly what our local Salvation Army is doing this year. Instead of school supplies, they are giving away new underwear for families with children of all ages, from preschool all the way through high school. This is for the self-esteem portion of returning to school, helping all children feel good about themselves, inside and out.

The generosity of our smaller communities in Northern Michigan is amazing. We don’t have to be a large church with a lot of members or a ton of money to help out in the community. Every small step we take makes a difference in a child’s life and their family. Remember 2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

Remember our children, remember our families, and remember our communities. And think about what we can do to help them through every season of life—not only through special occasions like going back to school, Christmas, and Easter but in whatever situation they are going through. We may be small, but we are mighty.

Last Updated on August 25, 2023

The Michigan Conference