Several members of my immediate family serve the public school system in our area.  My wife is a school nurse; my mother-in-law was a school nurse until she retired. I have two daughter-in-laws who are teachers and a son who will soon graduate with a degree in elementary education.  I’ve learned that family members who share a common profession can really create interesting discussions.

Often, when sitting around our kitchen table at a family gathering, I hear stories that make me sad.  The stories they tell are about the struggles that students in their immediate circle of influence face.  Students that struggle socially, students that are bullied, students who struggle in almost every subject at school because they face numerous challenges at home involving various forms of dysfunction.  Challenges often exacerbated by immature parents and/or guardians who also struggle to practice skillful parenting, serve nutritious meals, or make ends meet.  Inadequate home environments in our communities so often tend to reproduce a generation just as needy as the previous generation.

I have heard more than once about students who come to their teachers literally crying at the end of the school year because they don’t want to leave the relatively safe environment and care that was provided by caring teachers and faculty where they attend.

Hard to believe that a kid would cry about the end of the school year!  I couldn’t wait for the last day of school because that meant playing baseball every day with neighborhood friends, going to the pool, lots of sleep overs.  And mind you, my home environment was not fully functional by a long shot.  Being raised by my Dad and Grandma had its moments but at least I knew that I was loved and cared for.  My dad worked two jobs to provide for me and my two younger brothers.  He coached us in baseball and was around a lot. We knew we were loved.

Fast forward back to today.

This time of year, as we know, is back to school time.  I guess this means that kids that dreaded the end of last school year enough to shed a few tears are perhaps smiling just a little now that they are now back to a more structured environment. Times have certainly changed.  While some families fear the worst in a public school environment; others can’t wait for September even rooting for schools to provide tangible forms of love that they can’t (or won’t) provide.

I don’t mean this to be a “downer” for you. Rather, I hope it can be a reminder for us to be on the lookout for kids this fall.  Kids who need our smiles and our care.  Kids in your neighborhood and mine who could use a dose of real love from a real believer in Jesus who has been forever touched by His Amazing Grace and is willing to reach out in some way..  Are you up for the challenge?

Perhaps this reminder has brought a certain young person to mind.  Why not take a minute right now and pray for them?  And also pray that the Lord would open opportunities for you to initiate a relationship with their parents in the name of “just being neighborly.”

Perhaps, your family could invite them over for a barbeque or dessert on your back patio.  Be creative.  Be neighborly.  But above all, be available.  Who knows how God could have your paths cross if you ask for him to open the door for you?

Maybe back to school season can remind us to get “back to basics” in our effort to reach out to a world who really needs to be loved.

Something to think about.

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