back to school

It’s that time of year.

School starts for my family on August 23.

Ever since I returned to teaching, I refer to August as a transition month because it contains both summer days and school days. At my house, back-to-school preparations are in full swing. This got me wondering how many times I have written about this time of year at Always Orange. I discovered a number of posts, which led to an idea: what if I compiled snippets from some of these posts and put them into one piece.

So that’s what this post is—a collection of reflections from previous Augusts. Perhaps you will identify some similar themes as you read. I did. I’m still learning how to adjust expectations, settle into new rhythms, and live one day at time, trusting the Lord will provide the strength and grace for each day. Wherever you find yourself this August, I hope these words will remind you that you are not alone and also be a source of encouragement for you.


August 17, 2013

August is a mixed month for me. I think others share this sentiment as well. The weather is still very much summer and many are still in vacation mode, not starting school until after Labor Day. But for many families, August marks the end of summer and a transitioning back to school.

Some summers have been particularly busy and the start of school brings a fair bit of stress and anxiety. This summer, however, I begin a new school year with anticipation and renewed enthusiasm. I am grateful. I have come to accept (and appreciate) that whatever my circumstances, the rhythms of work and rest are God-ordained. I wouldn’t want perpetual summer. Work is meaningful and I am thankful that I enjoy what I do.


August 22, 2014

With each start of school, there is always a mixture of excitement and anxiety rolling around in my heart. The relaxed days of summer draw to a close and a new set of rhythms and routines begin. An adjustment period ensues where I fumble around until I settle into my new schedule. This year my preps and duties are the same as last year, which is HUGE for me. I am praying for a little more breathing room this fall.

September 8, 2012 (I’m cheating a little here since I posted this piece in September.)

I don’t like the in-between/transition moments, where I am figuring out my new routines. I feel out-of-sorts during these moments, and miss out on the little joys of each day.

I really don’t like this aspect about myself. Shouldn’t I be able to adapt to the “in-flux” nature of life at this point? I’m middle-aged, for goodness sakes! If growth in an area is the ability to admit to yourself what is going on, then I am making some progress. As I munched on my garlic beef at the local Thai restaurant this past Wednesday night, I was able to articulate my thoughts to Brad. While we didn’t uncover any brilliant insight that will change this part of me, I was struck (again) how this is an issue of control for me.

My routines and habits, which provide a source of the good, true, and beautiful in my life, can also be a subtle way for me to think that I am in control of my life. The very reason I don’t like constantly changing days or figuring out what happens next is that I have no control over these moments.

Charles Ringma, professor emeritus at Regent College, has written some wonderful devotional books. These are NOT the cheesy, feel good sort of devotionals. Even though I have read his books several times, I still uncover new truths with each reading. The one I am currently reading is entitled Life in Full Stride. In one of his pieces, he talks about the practice of opening one’s hands while praying as an act of submission. This is what I need—open hands. Not tightly gripped hands that think they can control each moment of the day. Open hands that recognize God’s sovereignty in my life. Even more amazing, is the freedom I will experience when I don’t feel like I have to take care of it all.

That’s my prayer for the next week as I continue to adjust and settle into a new school year: Lord, here are my open hands. Teach me to trust you today.


August 22, 2014

On Monday I have been asked to give the blessing at the school’s convocation. A blessing is a call for God’s favor and protection. I plan to include the following prayer as part of my blessing.

O God of new beginnings, new life, and new journeys, you sent Abraham and Sarah into a new land; you led Moses, Aaron and Miriam out of Egypt and into liberation; you led your Son our Savior to earth, to the cross, and into resurrection. Walk with us, we pray, as we enter into a new year, a new path, new opportunities. Amen. -The Rev. David R. Henson



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