Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Season of Cairns

From the bank of our campsite, we looked across Abrams Creek to a short tower of stones balanced in the water by someone we will never know. A "cairn."

Cairns are erected for many reasons .... Jeff and Jacob enjoyed keeping score of who could hit it as the target of a rock skipping competition. :) I was hoping it wouldn't be damaged, but let's just say it didn't take too many hits. (It's not easy to hit a cairn with a skipping rock! Even for my champion skippers.)

But there are other reasons people make cairns.

Marker - Many are placed on trails, and hikers add a rock when they pass by, leaving evidence they've passed that way. It may also mark the summit of a high peak, long looked to with anticipation to be overcome and attained.
Memorial - When an event is to be remembered and noticed, a cairn may be created as a testimony, a monument for those of us who forget so easily.
Map - Sometimes they are placed at regular intervals in order to give direction, to show a path along a passage.
Magnitude - There are times when someone realizes they are witnessing something great in size, scope, or significance, and so they leave a small cairn. By its comparative size, it turns attention to the greatness of the real treasure.

This is the "Season of the Cairn" for many of us. The season when children return to school and move ahead on their journey. Don't tune out here if you don't have school aged kids or even kids! As part of God's family, young followers of Jesus need many "Cairns" along the way to help find their way .... single adult friends, grandparents, parents, youth leaders, good friends, loving educators, spiritual mentors. Cairns.

For many, it means they face new challenges, even opposition or trials. Many will struggle to experience PEACE in their days full of challenge (or just persistence) and stretching. Jeff and I have schooled our children in every way possible at some point. This year, Jo continues her journey in public high school (yikes!) and Jake continues his in home school (that would mean I'm the teacher). They need cairns.

We mark the trail where we've been and left a stone. We guide younger ones to leave "memorials" to God's work in them and His provision along the way. We provide pieces of the map for them to follow the right way. We help students see the magnitude of the greater things around them. God's Word is filled with stories of those who influenced the younger ones around them to journey well. As school begins, it is the "Season of the Cairn", and this is our chance to bless students who are shifting gears and facing new challenges. God uses cairns to help provide peace in the school day when students encounter the bus or the bully or "that teacher" or "that subject" or a big test or a difficult relationship.

For the rest of August, I will share thoughts, challenges and helps in this season of influence. It is not just for parents; it is for all of us who are on a journey .... I guess that's all of us! :) I would love to hear your ideas, if you have some to share!

Here are some practical ideas to get us started in being cairns to students:
  • On the night before Day #1, write a note/email/message/text to a student to tell them you'll pray for them (and do). The first day of school is still .... well, the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
  • After the first week of school, call the student or parent to ask how it went and if they need prayer for anything specific.
  • If you don't have to "school shop," you might give a gift card to a student for back to school needs.
  • Send a card thru old fashioned snail mail, and include an encouraging verse, a picture of yourself as a kid, or a funny comic about starting school.
  • Drop off "first morning" donuts at the house of a student you know (the night before).
  • Send a discouraged student a "week of blessing," five 3x5 cards with a prayer or verse for each day of the week. They open one each day.
  • Ask the parent if there is a time of day that's a struggle for the student, and pray at that time for them.
  • Whatever their setting (home or away), they spend a lot of time in their "learning space," so give something fun to decorate and remind them the body of Christ cares (verse poster, fun colored supplies or magnets, sport poster, comic strip ...).
  • When you ask how school is going, listen for details, then ask about those next time (name of a teacher or friend, tough subject, or difficult test)
  • Each time you pass a school (you know, school traffic is coming ....) pray for the students in your life and their parents and teachers. (I'll give ideas about that in weeks ahead)

Consider this post a stone on the cairn of getting ready for school ... or whatever's next in your journey. :)

4 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Courtney said...

Great practical list of ideas - thank you!

Heidi Pocketbook said...

Very good list of ideas, Julie. How I wish I'd had this several years ago☺

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Very good list...Thanks so much for sharing..

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Sometimes a "list" is just helpful, isn't it? Tho' it can easily get lost in all the avalanche of paper that seems to come with the start of school. Generating ideas may get lost in the "start of school stuff", but it helps to have some practical ways to actively encourage and guide.