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When You're Not Quite Yet Back to School

This is it. In one week, school starts for my kids and the Penn State semester starts for me. This upcoming week -- our last official week of summer -- will be crammed with school-related events: meet-the-teacher hours, orientations, and new building tours for my kids; meetings for me on campus.

I'd be lying if I told you that there wasn't some low-grade nervousness surfacing. My oldest daughter, a rising 9th grader, is headed to our town's massive high school. My middle daughter, a rising 6th grader, is entering middle school. My youngest daughter, an incoming 4th grader, will be changing buildings. My own fall teaching schedule, one that had been predictably set for the last month, is now in flux due to some last-minute department changes. I'm still not fully sure what my day-to-day routine will be. I only know it will be busy.

I'm comforted by the reminder that none of this ruffles God. He's not bothered by change. He's constant in our daily routines, even if those routines will be new to us. He knew the classes my kids would be assigned to, what teachers they'd get, what lunch periods they'd have, what friends would (or wouldn't) share their schedules. The same goes for me. The entire college course registration process, which can feel clinical and random on a campus with over 45,000 undergraduate students, electronically assigns me a specific grouping of 24-30 students per class. I can trust that those students (who appear as just names and ID numbers on a website right now) are the exact students who are supposed to be there.

When I think of the upcoming school year like this -- that God has been overseeing and will continue to oversee the details -- I can relax. I can walk in assurance that He's with me, every step.

The Post-Talk Spiral

This week I had the opportunity to share the message at my church's Wednesday night service. While this certainly doesn't occur every single time I speak at a ministry event or give a professional presentation, I occasionally slip into a post-talk spiral within minutes of setting down the microphone.

It's a charming thought process that goes something like this:

That went pretty well.  It went decent, at least.  I mean, it was passable.  I forgot to say several things that I planned to say, though.  It was okay.  It was average.  Actually, I messed up several times.  It's possible that my second point wasn't clear at all.  The final point was a bit rushed. Wait, no, the final point was entirely abrupt.  Come to think of it, I'm convinced that nothing was coherent.  Not one sentence had merit.  I might not even have been speaking English.  It's highly probable that I insulted everyone's mothers and accidentally blasphemed.

Then some time passes, and I'm like: Actually, come to think of it, that went pretty well.

Decent, at least.

We Hope To Enjoy a Few More

The other night my family went out to dinner. Shortly after we were seated, the hostess ushered an elderly couple to the booth adjacent to our table. The gentleman pushed his wife in a wheelchair, helped to gently lift her thin frame into the booth, folded the wheelchair, and then wheeled the chair to the waiting area to clear the restaurant aisle. When he returned, he carried a cushion that he tucked between the wooden back of the booth and his wife's back.

I didn't want to stare, but I couldn't help but notice that her hands visibly shook as she held her utensils. I was somehow happily surprised to see that she ordered a rack of barbecue ribs -- a full rack, at that. He ate a hamburger. They talked quietly, and I noticed how they both periodically looked over at our kids, smiling as my youngest daughter held up an especially long French fry as it were something really special, and my middle daughter pretended to bite it in mid-air and snatch it from her dangling grasp.

When we left the restaurant, I felt the urge to stop at their table and say something, even though I didn't quite have the words to express that I somehow felt drawn to them, their togetherness, their collectively kind demeanor, their decision to order ribs and a burger.

So, instead of eloquently articulating any of those thoughts, I offered a friendly, if generic, greeting, and told them I hoped they were enjoying their meal. Then I tacked on, "How long have you been married?"

The man smiled and said, "Sixty seven years."

But it was his next sentence that made the entire night worth it: "And we hope to enjoy a few more."

We hope to enjoy a few more.

That's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. 
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