Every Sunday, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I answer the call to honor the day with a bit of reflection.

I revisit the demands and gifts of the past week and make an effort to pause and offer up a prayer to something or someone that I think needs a blessing or some healing.

It is no secret that we are living in incredibly divisive times. Far too many feel anxious, afraid, angry, and yes, even lost and unsure of where to go for support.

I feel it myself.

Mental Health is at a crisis point in this country.

That said, I almost always find myself asking what is to be learned in a particularly challenging situation.

What needs changing?

How do we begin to make positive impact?

What do I need to change in myself to make the world better?

Perhaps the toughest question of all.

But that’s where real change first happens.

Too often we point fingers and blame at someone else, while letting our own behaviors and poor decision making off the hook.

Then we wonder why nothing changes and things feel increasingly grim.

This week, I sat for while in view of my beautiful garden, a true gift from nature, and I paused.

Here is what spoke to my heart.

Instead of division and anger and following false prophets while ignoring spiritual truths, what if we offered up honest, respectful prayers about what weighs most heavy on our hearts?

What if we called out our ourselves for making less-than-stellar choices and too many excuses.

Have a true come-to-Jesus moment.

Then change what needs changing.

After viewing so many wonderful photos of kids going back to school this past week, I chose to focus on sharing a back-to-school prayer for their safety.

A prayer that kids get to experience the kind of school days when active shooter drills and banning books that further educate didn’t exist.

I spent a decade working as therapy dog team in elementary schools.

I know what kids and teachers face every day when they enter the classroom.

I know how what happens at home impacts a student’s ability to learn and do well at school.

They told me their tough stories.

Some were especially hard to hear.

I haven’t forgotten them.

I witnessed firsthand what even the smallest kindness and school support could do to help turn challenged lives around, including time spent with my dog that gave unconditional love to all.

Love is powerful.

Kindness is powerful.

Teamwork is powerful.

Making better choices for our children is powerful.

Parents that are loving, respectful role models are powerful.

Educators with both skill and heart are powerful.

I was honored to work with them weekly for ten years.

Most deserve our support, not our scorn and ugly resistance.

Teaching other people’s children is no easy job.

I said a prayer for parents as they send their kids off to school with understandable concern for their welfare, including for those with special needs.

I said a prayer for all the underpaid educators that lovingly and unselfishly purchase school supplies with their own funds to ensure better classroom experiences for their young charges, while facing unprecedented resistance and teaching in classrooms often overflowing with too many students, including many with behavior challenges.

Plus facing unnerving resistance that often comes from people not qualified to do their jobs.

Or that wouldn’t want to.

I prayed for safety and guidance and wisdom and needed professional support and more children’s giggles as they frolic carefree on the playground at recess.

We have stolen so much of our children’s innocence, and then shamelessly excused it all away.

I prayed that we all take a moment to pause and figure out our role in creating more positive change that supports kids feeling the stress of the misguided actions and anger of the adults in their lives, and those in positions of power.

I ended my prayer wishing that every student, child and educator has the best school year, ever.

A return to more childhood innocence.

In a healthier environment where teachers can actually teach, and kids can learn again.

Maybe enough reflection, prayer and action can help make that happen.

If we each make a choice to do our personal best, too, and make more loving choices.

As God intended.

Before man got involved and got so much of it wrong.

We can still change what needs changing.

For the sake of our children, our country’s future leaders.

Not by banning books that further teach important lessons.

But by better educating ourselves.

By joining in respectful, timely conversations about differences of opinion and finding workable solutions.

That is my true prayer for a wounded nation on this first Sunday in September as our children head back into the classroom.

That we each do a gut check, fix what needs changing, and then work together to make this a great school year for all students and their dedicated educators.

Time to finally cut the drama and work together.

For the sake of all the kids.

Remember them?

Counting on us?

Join me.

What do you need to change in your own life to help create a more stable and loving world for your children?