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Spiritual Care for Students Delaying Dreams

How long is your list of cancellations this year? Each month of 2020 seems to try to bring back one thing we lost and also takes away something many of us were looking forward to. A majority of my day is spent helping high school students who are transitioning to college. One of the most disappointing pieces of news that I have to deliver over and over again is telling a student that he or she waited too long to take advantage of an opportunity. Yes, deadlines are clearly stated, but additionally, some things “run out” if you do not jump on them quickly enough. In my job, this happens most often when classes fill up, when dorms reach capacity, or when scholarship money is used up. As if these missed opportunities were not difficult enough, many students in 2020 are also encountering cancellations from the world as well—through no direct fault of their own. We struggle in this together.

Teaching the Twelve Apostles: Bartholomew

There is relatively little we know for certain regarding Bartholomew, other than his inclusion with the list of the twelve disciples. His name is the combination of two Hebrew words, “bar(son)” and “Talmai.” As it was common for sons to carry their father’s name, it's likely his father’s name was Talmai. “Bar” is part of other Biblical names. Examples include, Barabbas (son of the father), Barnabas (son of encouragement) and Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus).

There is some thought that Bartholomew is also Nathanael, who is mentioned in the Gospel of John. This is good reason to assume this. In the first three Gospels, what are called the synoptic Gospels, Bartholomew is listed closely with Philip. As you will read below, Philip finds Nathanael upon encountering Jesus. These common connections to Philip suggest Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person. We will proceed under this assumption.

Distance Learning: Daily Routines to Save Your Sanity

Many families are beginning this new school year with some version of distance learning taking place in their homes. How can we make this challenging situation a little bit easier for busy parents and help encourage our kids to grow in their faith at the same time? Here are a few ideas to help you set a daily routine for your distance learners!

Jesus: Our Normal This School Year

This fall will be full of muffled sounds. The voices of our students will be muffled by the masks they wear. Teachers in face shields will project even more than usual to get their points across. Socially distant lunchtimes may prove themselves to be more quiet—or possibly louder! Professional development and faculty meetings via Zoom where administrators and teachers remain on mute only until ready and allowed to speak may continue as the norm for a while. Staff, faculty, and students returning to campuses nationwide will be separated by glass shields and assigned seating. Our class time, work time, and downtime will continue to look different.

A New Kind of Sunday School

Excitement is in the air. You can feel the anticipation of kids getting ready for school, the sigh of relief from parents that they may get a small break now, and the flutter of teachers’ hearts (and stomachs) as they prepare for another school year. Or is it the sensation of tension you feel? The nervousness of kids getting ready for their first day back or maybe even the anxiety and stress of teachers and parents alike? This year, it seems to be a bit of both worlds, excitement and anxiety. It’s the unknown of what teaching and learning during this pandemic will feel like and how it will unfold in the following months. So what will your Sunday School look like this fall? There are several options to satisfy the unique needs of your students and families. Let’s take a look.

Anxiety and the Pandemic: How Teachers and Administrators Can Cope as School Reopens

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed school teachers and administrators in the unenviable position of making extraordinarily complex decisions with incomplete and changing scientific data, clashing public health and political leadership and threats, extremely caring but concerned parents, anxious children, and potentially competing personal priorities—protecting their livelihood and preserving their own health and wellness while caring for our children.

Anxiety and the Pandemic: Help Students Cope as They Return to Classrooms

“Mommy, I can’t sleep. Can I come and snuggle in your bed?” Anyone experiencing this question these days? Are your children experiencing bad dreams? eating disorders? emotional outbursts? lack of attention to homework or even play? negative thoughts? nail biting, hair pulling, repeatedly running to the bathroom? School has not even begun again yet, but signs and symptoms of anxiety in children may be insidiously creeping into your child’s life and the life of your family.

There is no question that we love our children and want to do everything we can to protect them in this uncertain, anxious time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural for us, as parents and grandparents, to default to protection mode. Older and wiser, yet also facing anxiety in these uncertain times, we may try to protect our children by attempting to solve their problems and distresses for them, reduce or avoid the worries that trigger anxiety in them, or even try to organize and engineer their lives to block worry.

Teaching the Twelve Apostles: Andrew

While it is true that Peter, his brother, plays a larger role in the Gospels, Andrew is involved in several important events. Andrew and Peter put us in mind of Moses and Aaron. Moses, like Peter, holds the limelight, yet Aaron is indispensable. We may have to dig a bit deeper into God’s Word than normal, but we will find a great deal to learn and teach from this fisherman from Galilee.

You Are Qualified to Teach the Faith at Home

“As the head of the family should teach … ” 

Teaching at home is a concept that has rocked the world of young families this year. Honestly, not even simply teaching at home, but being at home while trying to navigate the rest of life is a lot of work!

Encouraging Youth to Speak Up for Christ

I don’t remember much from my middle school years, but I do remember one song we shared in our spring choir concert that has stuck with me throughout my life. With summer close on the horizon, a group of pre-teens belted out a rendition of “Greatest Love of All”, Whitney Houston’s appeal to trust children and let them help lead the way into the future. It was a song that expressed trust in the capability of the youth to accomplish great things. At the time, I wasn’t cognizant of how great a gift being trusted to be capable really is. I finished the school year and headed out on my bike into the summer, taking that gift for granted. That was more than thirty years ago.