A Prayer for the First Day of School

pencilsSchool is starting soon. (Groans ensue.) But new school year, new possibilities, right?

Regardless of how you feel about going back, the start of a new school year is an occasion for prayer. One of the most popular Web searches that leads to this blog is “prayer for the first day of school,” which lands here.

Below is an adapted version of that prayer. It can be used responsively with your family, in a congregational worship setting, or individually. The prayer offers both gratitude and intercession to God at the beginning of the new academic year.


Prayer for the First Day of School

For the start of a new semester and all the promise that it holds:

We give you thanks, our God.

For the joy we have in seeing friends and teachers again:

We give you thanks, our God.

For those with whom we live and share meals:

We give you thanks, our God.

For the chance to come to you freely in prayer and worship:

We give you thanks, our God.

For all that we will learn, in the classroom, in labs, in practice rooms, in the library, on the field, in relationships, at school and away from it:

We give you thanks, our God.

For wisdom for all students, staff, and teachers, as they seek to offer their best in all they do:

Lord, please be near us.

For family relationships that now transition in their expression:

Lord, please be near us.

For perseverance and diligence in studies:

Lord, please be near us.

For healthy sleep patterns, motivation to play and exercise, and self-control in eating good, healthy foods:

Lord, please be near us.

For those areas of life in which we struggle, where we despair, and for those things of which we are ashamed:

Lord, please be near us.

Consider the Snapping Turtles in My Road…

… how your heavenly Father provides for them!

We saw a snapping turtle crawling up our street this morning. We’d seen deer and turkeys in the yard (e.g., the turkey who was trying to make a nest in our raised bed tomato plants earlier this week), but this oversized turtle was a first.

Turtle Power
Turtle Power

After marveling at the creature with our kids and taking some family/turtle photos, my wife and I realized we had three options:

1. Leave it.
2. Call Animal Control to come rescue it.
3. Pick it up, put it into our wheelbarrow, and take it back into swampy, woodsy safety.

We ruled out Option 1. The backside of our house connects to a huge construction site, and even a large snapping turtle wouldn’t have stood a chance against a Link-Belt excavator.

Option 2 was easy—we called and left a message, but then realized a snapper was probably not super-high on the city’s priority list of things with which to be concerned.

So we were left with Option 3.

There’s a fine line between wise caution and being a chicken, and I had planted myself squarely between the two. It took me five minutes (maybe more?) before I could finally psych myself up enough to pick up the turtle to put it in the wheelbarrow. To help me over my caution/fear, my wife graciously offered to put a stick in front of the snapper’s mouth, so that it could be biting the stick while I picked it up, rather than biting me.

She gave him the stick. He bit it. Then I chickened out and lost my chance. (Or was being smart by trying to preserve all 10 fingers?) The stick was out of his mouth now. So my wife gently tapped him on the shell with the stick and… SNAP! All K-J fingers were still in place, but I jumped back. If I was going to do this, it had to be now.

So my fearless spouse tried the stick routine again, got it in the snapper’s mouth, and (with kitchen gloves on) I reached down and started to pick it up from the sides of its shell. SNAP! He missed me, but I knew he was going for me that time. I couldn’t even see his face when he snapped—he was all neck and mouth.

At this point we decided to stick with the aforementioned options 1 and 2. I was especially concerned that if I picked the turtle up and it snapped in/at my hands, I might jump away and drop him on the pavement. We didn’t want to hurt him.

But we had to get on with our morning, so, leaving the snapper where he was, I went to the assistant foreman in his trailer office behind the parsonage and told him about the turtle, so that he could tell his equipment operators to BE SURE NOT TO RUN HIM OVER (please).

His face lit up: “I have a guy who loves reptiles!” (He used a few additional adjectives and adverbs to make that clear.) Then he called across the worksite to someone in one of the new duplex units: “Bird!” A fitting nickname, I suppose.

With cigarettes and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in hand, “Bird” and a couple others came over to where the turtle had now settled itself. Without batting an eye, he gently lifted it up by the tail to see that she (I had had the snapper’s gender wrong) was settling into a leaf pile in our yard to lay eggs. The turtle must have known Bird was a “reptile guy.” There was no snapping this time.

Animal Control still had not come, but Bird said he knew a place where the snapper would be safe. Minutes later, Bird and his co-worker were driving away from the site with the turtle in their pickup truck—taking it now (presumably… hopefully!) to safety.

This all began between 8:30 and 8:45. I don’t know what mornings are like in your house, O reader, but that tends to be crunch time for the K-Js. We have to make sure everyone is dressed, fed, and pottied, and we have to make our eldest son a lunch and drive him to the bus stop. Then my wife and I each have various responsibilities and places to get to. So the morning routine can be stress-filled, try as we might to make it not be so.

This morning wasn’t too bad, but I was already thinking about all that I had to get done this morning… and then we saw the snapper in the road. As we finally got into the car with the kids to drive to our different destinations, it was 9:45, a full hour later.

But I can tell you—whatever had been concerning us at 8:45 was far from our minds at 9:45!

It hasn’t been that long since I read through, studied, and preached on the passage from Matthew 6 where Jesus tells his disciples to “consider the birds of the air.” If God feeds them and cares for them—animals that presumably have no souls and have not the spiritual and emotional capacity that we have to experience God’s love—how much more will he care for us!

And if God can somehow be overseeing a process whereby a snapping turtle is brought to safety by our new construction working “friend,” how much more can he make sure we have all we need?

Or, as a college friend used to say: “Everything is going to be alright forever.”

A Frog as Big as a Dog

Photo by Eli Greenbaum
Photo by Eli Greenbaum

When my wife was reading to the kids tonight (from Ranger Rick, Jr.), she read, “A cane toad can be as big as a small dog.”

My response, from the other room was: “Gross!”

My six-year-old promptly corrected me: “No… that’s awesome!”

I suppose he’s right. The photo above is of a cane toad, which I have not had the privilege of seeing in person. (They’re not around these here parts.)

National Geographic has more here.

First Ice Cream and Lyle the Crocodile

Ice Cream

Yesterday was a momentous occasion: the first all-family ice cream outing of the summer. (Shhh… it’s summer in my mind.) We did the almost-impossible-to-beat triumvirate of

ice cream


used bookstore

At the used bookstore, we got a hardcover edition of four Lyle the Crocodile books bound together (sewn binding, mind you!) for a mere $5.

Tonight we read the first one:

Lyle the Crocodile

In The House on East 88th Street, Mr. Primm, Mrs. Primm, and their son Joshua move into a new house, only to find a crocodile in the bathtub. They’re even more shocked when–as they’re trying to figure out how to get rid of it–it saunters down the stairs and starts doing tricks for them.

It’s a funny and well-written book. We’re looking forward to reading the rest. Highly recommended #kidlit!

What My 3-Year-Old Thought I Was Going to Feed My 1-Year-Old

Apologies in advance for the scatalogical nature of this post. But I’m trying to get back to Family Fridays on this here blog, and nothing says family (at least our family) like this actual conversation that took place in the kitchen yesterday:

3-year-old son: Daddy, can you help me?

Me: Hold on… I’m getting your sister some food.

3-year-old son: Some poop?

Me: <Trying to stifle laughter>

3-year-old son, wanting to be heard and still awaiting my response: POOP???

Me: No… some FOOD.

3-year-old son: OHHH. I thought you said you were going to give her some poop.

Can’t make this stuff up.