Since I was a child, I loved going back to school. I remember excitedly picking up my brand-new box of crayons, colored paper and all of the other supplies I would need. I wore a brand-new outfit and took photos with my sisters. 

It was exciting to learn, but it was even more exciting to meet new people, start something new and just have that fresh start all over again.
 
This year’s first day of school is different for so many kids across the country. School has likely lost a lot of its previous luster, given everything families and children have been through these past 17 months. 

Last year, I’ve heard so many stories from teachers, parents and kids over how difficult school has been with this virus. We are living through such a time of uncertainty, illness and fear. 
 
If you have children in school, what do you fear for each child? What does your child fear right now? Is it not being able to see their friends? Is it worrying they won’t be able to make new friends? Are they worried about falling behind in certain subjects? Are they worried about their health?
 
While writing this devotion, I contemplated all those questions and more as I spotted my favorite tree in the front yard. 

This particular pecan tree is likely at least 50 years old and stretches up higher than 40 feet. It leans to the side a little, but it’s still standing tall. Over the years, it has likely withstood numerous heavy rains, extreme heat, Snowmageddons and tornados. It also blooms every year and provides an ample amount of shade, both in our yard and in the street.
 
It reminded me of Jeremiah 17:7-9: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Pecan trees do something called “alternate bearing,” where they sometimes have a heavy crop one year and a much lighter crop the next. Their crops are dependent on all sorts of factors, and the trees themselves have no control over these. When they’re under too much stress, they just produce a light crop, but the tree will stay standing and wait for what the next year brings.

When a tree has lived 50 years, it’s had good years, bad years, and many, many in-between years.

You might be thinking that it's impossible to bear fruit right now with everything that is going on, but this might be one of those years that each of us has to produce a light crop of fruit. 

What can you do to help each of your children with this in mind? 

The Lord doesn’t require we produce in abundance every year. All he asks is that we continue to have confidence in him and to give up our fears when the heat comes. He simply wants us to keep standing, waiting for what next year brings, and trust that next year, things will be different. 

Written by Taylor Zreet, kinship care specialist for Buckner Children and Family Services in Fort Worth, Texas.

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