Shine Bright

On July 29, 2019, I drove my two oldest boys to their first day of school of the 4th and 2nd grades.

The week before that had been a blur. We had joyfully arrived back home from “The Great Monster Road Trip” that spanned four weeks and nine states, leaving us about seven days to unpack and clean everything before school would start. And then… my husband ended up breaking his leg the evening before the first day of school.

The first day of school looked considerably different than I had expected. My husband was in a lot of pain—so much so that I was unsure about leaving our 4-year-old son with him at home. Twenty-four hours earlier, I imagined that all five of us would go together to drop off the boys. But here it was, just me and them taking the 15-minute drive to school, still reeling quite a bit from our world being shifted right under our feet the night before.

I didn’t want them to go. I didn’t want the summer with them to end. I loved being with my children. I loved being one of the main influencers in their lives. I was feeling uneasy about my oldest starting 4th grade–it just seemed so old and independent! Was he ready? What would he face? Would 2nd grade be a struggle for my active middle child? Would he make good friends? The unknowns of my husband’s sudden disability seemed to magnify the unknowns of the coming school year.

I was worried, driving to school that day, but I was also crystal clear with my boys. I let them know how much I loved them. I let them know that I was proud of them and that I believed in them. And I let them know that my prayer for them that day and that year was that their lights would shine bright. I knew they were headed to a place where they would not be taught about God, but I reminded them that the light of God in their lives could make an impact with their friends, in their classes and in their school.

We turned up TobyMac, snapped our fingers and sang all the way until we reached the parking lot.

The boys didn’t hesitate to get out of the car and, with a quick, sweet look back at me, they re-entered the routine they knew so well.

I saw them leave my watchful eye… and worked at entrusting them to the watchful eye of God.

Months passed. My husband had surgery and lots of PT appointments. My boys went on field trips and made new friends. They learned new math concepts and improved their writing skills. They played at recess and ate at the lunch tables. My husband’s ability to walk on his own returned, and he started driving himself to work and the boys to school. More months passed and COVID hit California. All of a sudden, no one was taking the boys to school. No one was going anywhere. School would now happen on a folding table just off of our living room. I was once again the main influencer in my sons’ daily lives. While I loved the opportunity to spend so much time with them again, I grieved that they couldn’t play with their friends or learn {directly} from their teachers. But their school year ended at home, with just our family, feeling pretty distant from the school community that had served as their second home for much of the year.

On Tuesday morning, my son, Noah, got to say goodbye to his 4th grade teacher. We had a 2-hour window where we could drive through the pick-up loop and grab his last remaining items from the classroom. Our car windows had been decorated with art and words to let her know how much he loved having her for a teacher and would miss her. Her joy-filled smile could be seen despite her mask. It was such a sweet moment. And then she said some words I hope my son will never forget: “Noah, I saw the light of Jesus in you every day.” My heart swelled as I looked at my son’s beautiful brown eyes; oh, he was for sure taking this in.

As we drove away from the school, my own eyes widened as I remembered the song that I played for my boys that first day of school. There it was. In true, almost-unbelievable fashion, God had answered my prayer from that day so long ago (not only for my first-born, but also for my second-born!). I never could have known on that shaky day last July how this year would have unfolded. In the midst of that unknown, I brought the desire of my heart to the Lord, and I trusted {albeit a little timidly} that he could take care of the things that I could not see. And, amazingly enough, he did.

What is a prayer that you could be praying for the people around you right now? Do you anticipate that God can answer it? How can you let your own light shine bright in the darkness?

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