It was back to school this week for my daughters. They continue their journey through elementary school with its own joys and struggles. We’ve been having a variety of pep talks in the past week – getting the brain ready to be back at school, staying on task, being open to friends old and new – as well as reminders to be kind, to care for others, to embody our family’s values, and to live out their lives as Christians even in the school environment.

Every night, since they were infants, my husband and I each bless our girls. The words used in the blessing have changed over time and he and I have different ways of doing the blessing. I usually say, “I bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, the God who knows and loves you, who watches over you and keeps you safe. Amen.” (BTW, you don’t need to be a priest to bless your children or grandchildren!) Often these days one or the other will bless us as well – such a delight! Grace at dinner has been a mainstay in our house but we’ve been intentional lately in giving thanks before breakfasts and lunches together, at home or out to eat. One daughter wants to lead grace every time and sometimes we remind her to share that responsibility.

As they grow, we are inviting them to develop their prayer life in different ways. On the night before the first day of school, I asked each of my daughters to think about what help she wanted from God in the new school year. Each one paused for a moment and then answered. I then asked her to pray with God about that help on her own and to remember to listen and be watching for God’s response. The question is in the realm of discernment: where is it that I need help and guidance from God and how do I hear and see God responding to my need.

Whether your life has a first day of school this year or just another day at work, each one of us can ask the same question and set time aside to listen for God’s response.

backpack-blessing-8-31-14web.jpgPhoto by Kate Ballard

Blessing of the Backpacks, August 31, 2014