M-Note 8.20.2021

This past weekend, Jessica and I moved Caleb into his first apartment for his second year of college. It was a whirlwind of a few days as we packed him up (without power at our home), trying to think of all the things he might need now that he is officially living on his own. We spent the day driving a trailer full of old furniture down to Springfield, unloading it, putting his room together, taking him and his roommates out for lunch, and then driving back home. The next day, I received a call from him.
“Dad,” he said.
“Yes?” I asked.
“I just spent over $100 at Wal-Mart. Groceries are expensive. I never realized that.”
That felt like a milestone moment for me and Jess. The first nascent sign of adulting. It was also a reminder that we are in a new season.  A new season of the year, of parenting, and of life.
We aren’t the only ones going through a change of seasons right now. I know a lot of parents that are preparing to send their kids to school for the first time, others who are watching their kids struggle with a locker as they enter middle school, or entering high school fearing that they will get lost. I see pictures of some of you setting up dorm rooms as you send your kid off for the first year of college, and others of you lamenting/celebrating that you officially have an “empty-nest”. Beyond parents, the end of summer and the shifting of the season has many of us saying goodbye to one stage and beginning to look ahead at what the future might hold.
These changing seasons come with a mixture of celebration, gratitude, and fear. Life progresses, and that is a good thing. Kids who are capable and ready to leave (whether it’s for kindergarten or college)--that is a good thing, as well. But, there is some fear and sadness. For some of us, we love having our kids around and have centered much of our identity in parenting them. So, saying goodbye to them (whether for the day or for the year), feels like saying goodbye to a part of ourselves. Some of us rightly are fearful for their safety and health, trying to make wise decisions about balancing their physical, mental, and emotional health in an age of COVID. Some of us feel like we are already behind and scrambling, and the school year hasn’t even started yet.
Wherever you are in this, you aren’t alone. I am thinking and praying for all of you, especially you parents out there. I am also praying for teachers, educators, and school administrators as you prepare for another school year in a divisive and difficult time. Leadership has never been so fraught with challenges.
For all these reasons, I want to encourage all of you to be in church this weekend for the Blessing of the Backpacks. We will be praying for kids, parents, and educators in worship at all of our sites. Kids, we encourage you to bring your backpacks! Adults, I have a job for you, as well. I am asking all of you to help us bless our partner schools in St. Louis by bringing some school supplies to donate. We will have bins at each site for the supplies, and you can find a full list of what is needed here. As a church that wants to be compelling for new generations and help them know their church cares for them, I hope all of you will be in worship to support our kids.
Whatever season you are in, know that Christ is with you, and you aren’t alone. Have a great weekend, and I will see you in church!
P.S. Students 6th-12th grade – Sunday night is the kick-off for student ministry with Thrive (middle school) and Engage (high school). It will all be happening at The Gathering Webster from 5-7pm, and I really encourage you to not only show up, but bring some of your friends. Parents, all the details can be found here.

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