It’s the time of year for back-to-school shopping, advertisements, sales, and planning. It seems the world gets so wrapped up in making sure the kids are set to look their best, with all the best learning tools, to head back to school. I admit, as a mom and as a former teacher, there’s nothing that I love more than shopping for school supplies. But every year while I’m out buying some fun pencils and cool erasers, I see you pass by, always with a smile, but shopping with a different purpose. And it occurs to me that “back to school” does not apply to you.
I want to share 5 tips to make this time of year meaningful
when back-to-school does not apply to you.
1. Commit to a time of prayer for your local schools. If you have many local schools, maybe just pick one and commit to praying for the staff, the kids, the families, the support staff (lunch aides, custodians, school therapists, librarians–anyone who sets foot into the school). Maybe you’ll pray just during the first week of school, maybe the whole month of September, or maybe God will lay it on your heart to pray for a longer period of time. But would you consider adding your local school to your prayer list?
2. Commit to a fresh time with God each day. So many of us end up with jumbled summertime schedules due to vacations, get-togethers with friends, and many other activities. Not sure where to start? How about choosing a favorite passage or a favorite book and starting there. Ask God for some fresh insight into what you’re reading. Maybe try writing down some thoughts after your reading and see how God uses that time.
3. Try a prayer calendar. I will admit, I have tried a prayer journal many times. I get lost, though, in trying to keep up with date-specific requests. Recently a new idea came to mind to try a prayer calendar. I am simply printing out a calendar for each month and writing date-specific prayer requests on them. I had a friend ask me to pray for a speaking engagement on a specific date. Because I wrote it on the calendar, I could see it and be praying for it in the days leading up to the event, as well as during the event.
4. Restock school supplies for a family or even a class. It seems that after Christmas break, the only thing that’s “new” is the month on the calendar. Pencils are used, erasers are shredded, notebooks are doodled in and on, and the newness of the supplies has definitely worn off. Many teachers invest personal resources to supplement classroom supplies, and many families would love a second round of even just a few new supplies. Could you take advantage of some of the back-to-school sales and bless a family or a classroom? It doesn’t have to be much–some pencils and erasers, or a new notebook for everyone, or fresh glue sticks–but it would make a huge difference to the person receiving the gift. Your gift could be the tool that a child needs but to which they don’t have access. What a blessing school supplies can be in the new year!
5. Re-evaluate your activities and ministries. As we gear up for the school year, this is a great time for us as adults to take a look at activities in which we participate. Have you been helping in a ministry about which you really aren’t passionate? Is there something you’d rather be doing in the way of ministry? This is a great time to make that change! Are you a little over-committed and wish you had more time to participate in an online book study, or even just to read a new book? Work now to cut out what extras you can in order to make room for space to breathe and relax and be refreshed. We get so busy doing (and it’s often doing good things!) that we forget to allow time for being–for being refreshed and renewed so that we have energy for the things we’re doing.
I hope these 5 activities give you some starting points for how you can consider this time of year as new and fresh, even if back to school does not apply to you.