Back-to-School Reflection by Jayna Harris

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As our kids return back to school, we wanted to share the perspective of Jayna, a teaching parent who cares for seven boys in Cottage 6, along with her husband Cliff.

“About 10 months ago we became teaching parents to a cottage of boys. We did not know how quickly we would fall in love with them as sons.  Three of the young men in our cottage will be graduating this year, and the start of their senior year has been harder than we imagined. The start of their final year with us in this cottage seems bittersweet.

Marcus, Carlos and Leo are the seniors form Cottage 6.

Summer has been full of smiles and great memories: we played basketball, had long talks about spiritual growth and laughed during our fun-filled days of cottage vacation. But the reality of the summer season ending is slowly hitting us. Before we know it the BGC pool will close for another season, and the cheers of Friday Night Lights will echo through our small town once more as we exchange our long, hot days of summer for cooler weather.

For the BGC kids, the end of summer marks new beginnings. Some will start kindergarten, others are walking into junior high for the first time, and still others are beginning their high school journeys. There are also new kids on campus who are learning a new structure, adjusting to family stability and stepping out in faith that this new life will be full of adventures. They will make new friends, see their new school and discover that dreams are achievable.

Fourteen of our children are beginning their senior year. No doubt, each teaching parent feels as we do as they watch these young adults embark on this major milestone. It is a bittersweet time, but we feel so blessed to have been given the gift of being part of the lives of these amazing young men and women.

A child’s milestones are plentiful: from a baby’s first coos to his first steps, to tearful goodbyes on the first day of kindergarten, to the first time you loan them a car to drive, and so much more.  As teaching parents at BGC, we don’t always get to witness the firsts of our kids. Somehow God still uses everyday moments to grow us together. Thanks to His guidance, we see smiles appear in place of hurt and sadness, grit and pure determination take over heartache and defeat, and courage emerges when kids discover that they are special and loved. The major milestone occurs when our children allow themselves to accept unconditional love, grace, and mercy for the first time in their lives, and let God change their hearts.

Our boys have come a long way in ten months and so have we. I know this school year we will grow even closer together as a family. Sometimes God’s biggest blessings come in the form of pathways we would never have chosen for ourselves. But Praise Jesus that His mercies are new every morning and that, just like the passing of the seasons, the change He creates in us comes whether we think we are ready for it or not.

Please continue to pray for us as we enter a new school year. Pray for our kids to start the year out strongly, for them to make friends who will be good influences. And please pray for their teaching parents as we guide them through another school year.”