Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6

The school supplies are purchased. The emergency contact forms have been filled out. New clothes and sneakers have been tracked down after relentless comparison shopping. We’re still trying to get our high school junior out of “French for Beginners,” but the school year is shaping up nicely. T-minus seven days, and who’s counting?! Me! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Don’t think me a bad father (mediocre, perhaps, but certainly not bad), but I love my kids even more when they are in school. Summer vacations are wonderful for the first few weeks, but now as August is on the cusp of giving way to September, I cannot wait for all four of them to be back into classes, book bags, afterschool activities and routine, glorious routine! I love my children, we had loads of fun together over the summer, but it’s time for them to go back. Saliese started college classes yesterday at CCBC, but it’s September 4 for David, a junior at Merganthaler Vocational Technical High School; Andrew, a sophomore at City Neighbors High School; and Joyanne, a fourth grader at City Neighbors Charter School!

I talk big, and the truth is, I will likely shed a tear or two as they start back. I will miss them being home when I arrive home at odd hours for lunch or a nap. I might even grump and grouse about being a taxi service for them as Arwyn and I renegotiate pick-up, drop-off, play dates and afterschool activities, but still, I’m doing my September happy dance.

Structure and routine will make sure that we work and play well together, and that family time is intentional and carved out from everything else. We will fall back into patterns that help my kids succeed – getting up at the same time, meals together, homework/play/chore/bedtimes are predictable. The flurry of friends meeting up with friends will start up again. Dinnertime conversations will be richer for having been apart from one another. New knowledge and discoveries will bless and enliven our life together as we make dioramas, mobiles, tri-fold boards, book reports and research projects. Our prayer lives will deepen as we trust God to watch between us when we are apart, keep us safe at school and work, and help us to live in Christ as Christ lives in us even when we inhabit overtly secular spaces.

Martin Luther, who was passionate about the intersections of faith and learning, believed in the power of education for all children and was wont to say on occasion, “When schools flourish, all flourishes.” Some may know that I went to college with some intention of becoming a music teacher; and when I dipped my big toe into that pool, I discovered that God was calling me elsewhere. I am overwhelmingly grateful for those dedicated women and men who live into this teaching vocation, and who for 180 days a year spend 6.5 hours a day encouraging and blessing our children with knowledge and skills that will shape them for their life’s work, and countless hours outside of that day preparing, grading, following-up and sharing in the extra responsibilities of cultivating the community to which they belong. I am blessed to be a coworker with teachers, students, administrators and a host of other professionals and volunteers to create a culture of curiosity and success in our children’s schools.

And I am happy, because it’s time for school. For which I pray, ecstatically, “thanks be to God!”

My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you. Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. –Proverbs 3:1-6