“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6
When Southern Living magazine came to our home, I pulled it out of the mailbox, eagerly turning to the very back page to relish in Rick Bragg’s latest story of his deep Southern roots. So, with every single magazine I turn to the back page. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been receiving “O” magazine. I never ordered it and haven’t bothered to let them know our change of mailing address. Still, for a bit longer, it comes to us with the sticker of notice to let the publisher know of the new address. I’ve learned that whether I agree with Oprah’s views or not, I tend to glean something worthwhile in every issue.
This afternoon I turned to the back page – Oprah’s essay entitled “What I know for Sure.” This month she talked about what she learned from her interview of fourteen folks following several recent school shootings. “There was one answer everyone agreed on: family. Protecting family. Caring for family. Loving family.” As I continued reading her essay, I reflected on what I heard Michael Berry say on his afternoon radio show on KTRH in his tribute to Barbara Bush.
“The Bushes are a clannish people. They take care of their own no matter what. Whatever will be said of Barbara Bush, and I believe most of it will be positive, she loved and cherished her family. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a mother who stays home and focuses on her family.”
Were you blessed with a mom who focused on her family? Are you one of those moms who cares deeply about her family? Truthfully, I don’t know of one woman who doesn’t care about her family enough to fight for them. Maybe I live in a protected world, but honestly, I’m grateful to know moms who are devoted to their children, their husband, their parents, their family.
The point of Oprah’s article was a plea for all of us to come and stand together for the good of our nation’s families. Oprah asks the question, “Can we agree to use our common sense to protect the common good?” In agreeing with Oprah, I also hope and pray that we can stand together for our families. What does this mean?
Here’s my take on how schools could help their troubled children:
First and foremost, parents, love your children with time. Spend incredible time with them, doing things with them that don’t require phones, i-pads or videos. Parents, listen to your children. Listen to their heart; listen to them read. Then, you read to your children. And you be the authority in your home and be in control of your child’s electronic devices.
Parents, befriend your children’s teachers –they are not the enemy. Most teachers have your children’s best interest at heart just as much as you do. It’s time for you and your teachers to be on the same team.
School administrators, reach out to the retired neighbors and the seniors in the area and ask them to donate an hour a week to one on one time with an “at risk” child. The counselor knows most of those children.
Fathers of the children in the area schools, including middle and high school, commit to one hour a week to walking the school. Presence is everything. Shooting some hoops on the court in the afternoon, or sitting down at the lunch room and engaging in conversation with those who generally sit alone. Believe me, the students can tell the fathers who the loners are.
Moms, along with your presence on the PTA committees and at Field Day, donate an hour of your time to listening to a child read aloud, not just an elementary school age child, but even a middle school or high school student.
Do you see the pattern? Donated time of presence in the school. Eye to eye contact with the students. One on one time with the students. Retired folks, one hour a week is huge to the school in your area!
Churches need to rally around the schools in their area and pray for them; go to the school to ask how they may minister to the students and staff in their school. Truthfully, every principal worth his or her salt would gladly welcome their help! Last spring after a recent flood, a family near our church came to our benevolence committee to ask for some help- a mattress, some clothes and perhaps some groceries. We gladly reached out to help this family. As it turned out, the principal of the children’s school heard about the need and came to us to ask if our church would “adopt” her school, and just pray for her staff. We jumped at the opportunity! Several members met at the school and walked the campus one weekend, praying for the faculty, students and parents of that school. And now, several members volunteer to mentor some children in that school.
The first words out of my young third grade student mentee this morning was, “I told my mom what my favorite days of the week are: Friday, Saturday,” and pointing his finger at me, “Monday because I get to see YOU!” Then he pulled out his newest Pokemon card to tell me all about it. Our hour was filled with some pretty vulnerable moments where he revealed his deepest heart cry to me before we played some games together. As I walked out the door after a lovely hour with him, I thought about whether he would remember our time together this year when he gets to high school. Then I thought, I don’t know, but I’m going to ask for him next school year.
Thank you, Father, for the opportunity to get to know this young man each Monday. Thank you for the time we spend together. May all of us Believers seek your face and ask You for your guidance in how we each may reach out to the children right in our own back yard. Be with the parents of our children these days. Give them your wisdom, strength, and humility as they raise our nation’s future. I pray they’ll use the Bible as their guide always. In Your name, Amen.