Whether you are a student, parent of a student, teacher, or work at a school, the beginning of the school year can be difficult. Adjusting to waking up early, finding your locker, and figuring out a new schedule with activities are just some of the hurdles to overcome. Then you add in all of the feelings of having to meet new people and being in an unfamiliar setting and it can be pretty overwhelming. But amidst the challenges are opportunities to make new friends, go deeper in your relationships with others, and be a witness for Christ. In 2016, Risen Magazineheard from Lori Loughlin of Full House, Fuller House and Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart, as well as U.S. Volleyball player, Gabby Reece on what their families do to get ready for back to school.
Gabby Reece shared her advice on how students can be the best that they can be.
“It’s hard to know when you are young. Those sound like words. But [for adults], we understand the meaning behind that. For example, if I’m talking to a group of athletes, I try to remind them that, if you get to do this, first of all you should enjoy yourself, but second of all, you’re really fortunate. And then I say, you happen to be the best one and you are actually the most fortunate. I try to flip it and have them see the opportunity, whatever the ‘it’ is. I had my kids watch Waiting for Superman, for them to understand what a gift just being able to go to a school is. It should be all of our rights, but to see other kids have to fight for that right [is wrong].”
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silverand search for it as for hidden treasure,then you will understand the fear of the Lordand find the knowledge of God.”Proverbs 2:1-5
Lori Loughlin talked about how their family gathers around the dinner table no matter how busy they are.
“It’s living one day at a time and living in the moment. I am incredibly busy right now. I am thankful for the all of the work. But it is making the most of that down time and carving out that family time. One of the things that we always did and still continue to do is to make family dinner a priority, which has kind of gone by the wayside. I did that with my family growing up. My husband did that with his family. We always thought this a great way for the family to be together. It is a great way to check in, hear their thoughts, feelings, what is going on in their lives. It’s about being conscious and making the most of your time and that down time.”
Gather together for a meal. It can be a homemade three-course meal or your favorite takeout, but make it a priority to gather together as a family or group of friends for a meal. Put the phones away and instead try to engage one another in conversation. Be aware of a family member or friend that is more reserved. Ask everyone to share the highlight of their day and something that is challenging. It can be fun to get a deck or jar of questions and have people rotate drawing from the deck or jar and answering them. It gives everyone an opportunity to share and get to know each other better. If there is flexibility in your schedule, consider making the meal together. Give each person a different responsibility like setting the table, pouring the drinks, or tossing the salad.
Befriend someone new. As anxious as you might be to start the new school year, remember there is someone that is probably just as nervous as you are. Pray and ask God to show you someone that you can reach out to and befriend. It could be inviting them to join you at lunch, asking them to go to church with you or meeting them at a school event like the football game. Ask God to give you boldness to invite them and soften their heart to be open to a relationship with Him.
Be a witness for Him. The beginning of the school year is a great time to have a fresh start. Even if you didn’t necessarily live out your faith like you wanted to in the previous year, remember this is a new year. Pray and ask God how you can be a witness for Him this year. Think about if there are habits or lifestyle changes that you need to make that don’t line up with His Word. If you are having trouble, ask your small group, pastor or ministry leader to hold you accountable. It can also be helpful to find a friend that will hold you accountable to living out your faith. They can challenge you when you make decisions that don’t line up with your relationship with Christ.