The Real School Supply List Every Kid Needs

She starts high school in a couple of days.

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That little brown-eyed baby girl made me a mother and now I’m wishing I could make the clock slow down.

I showed her how to make her bed and her lunch and now she’s showing me how she will make her way.

Something special happened this summer. We don’t always get to see our kids grow-it’s slow and steady, it’s something we recognize after the fact. But there was a moment when time slowed down and I noticed the tilt of her chin, the determination in her eyes, the rapture of deciding who she is and realizing no one can take that away.

It was a brief glimpse of her becoming and it was beautiful.

She’s ready for those Chuck Taylors to take her places.

My son is starting junior high. His growth is obvious, man-sized hands and feet, hard to miss. I’ve never known a more g00d-natured soul, the kind of person who you just want to be around all the time. He is insightful and funny. He brings peace along with him.

I pray an invisible shield around his kind and thoughtful heart and pray the world doesn’t chip away his strength and resolve.


My baby, a second grader. Oh, time.

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We finished up school supplies and my oldest asked about her high school list. I told her the teachers would tell her everything she needs on the first day of school.

“Mom, I need a pencil and paper at least. I can’t go unprepared,” her way of saying, One more trip to Target, please?

Prepared. We spend a lot of time in preparation, don’t we, moms?

But there isn’t a school supply list in the world that contains all I want to give my kids and it’s not what the world tells me they need.

While our culture says they need more selfies and self esteem, I want my kids to be more selfless. Find the new kid.

While our world says they need to fit in, I want my kids to stand out. Be different. Be themselves.

While our society says they are not enough, I want my kids to know that’s okay. Because Jesus is Enough.

school time

The Real Back-to-School Supply List:

We can instill purpose in them | We are raising kids in a culture that is constantly changing its moral code. And without deep-rooted purpose, it’s far too easy for our children to get tossed around by whatever is politically correct or by social norms that shift without warning. If we don’t teach our kids we are here to glorify God and our ultimate purpose is to know Him and make Him known, no one else will.

We can encourage positive community around them| When we’re expecting our kids to live in the world, but not be like it, it’s absolutely crucial to provide opportunities for positive community. It’s actually not always convenient to attend church youth group or get together with like-minded friends, but it must be a priority. Kids need to feel like they belong somewhere. And they will.

We can offer them a safe place to fall and fail | Our kids grow through failure. We all have bad days and offering them a safe place to be themselves is a gift. If they have to keep it all together all the time, they just might fall part in the wrong place. Be their safety net. We don’t have to expect failure, but our kids should be able to expect our support no matter what.

We can remind them to be kind and thoughtful to others | Nothing makes me prouder than when I hear that my kids were kind to the new kid or reached out to someone. Parents are often the best teachers. When we take time to serve or put others first, we are teaching our children that this is valuable.

We can show them the beauty of faithfulness when life is hard | In our culture, it’s too easy to quit when things get tough. When we are faithful in hardships, this is when we learn. This is success. Expecting our kids to be faithful to their commitments is something they will carry through life.

We can choose to live in peace | Our world is in chaos. It’s a scary time to be raising kids today and we can’t predict or provide peace in the world. But we can try and provide it at home. We can pick our battles with each other and especially with those who choose to live differently than we do. It’s not really about tolerance; it’s about love.

So, let’s send our kids armed with backpacks and scissors and no. 2 pencils, new shoes, a great breakfast and a pat on the back to “do your best,” but  let’s also remember there are important things we can offer them that can’t be found on the Back to School aisle.


  1. 2


    Yes! To all of this. So thankful for your experience on the parenting road and the encouragement you give to so many of us to not grow weary…really was convicted about letting my home be the place they can feel safe to fall apart.

  2. 3


    Yes! LOVE everything about this post…especially related to the part about finding the new kid. I was the “new kid” my whole life. My Dad was in the USAF and we moved…a LOT. I mean, I was in 3 different schools during my 4th grade year. Seriously. I have tried to teach my own children to reach out to the new kids. by reaching out to the new people who come into our church or community. My life has definitely been enhanced and enriched when people have reached out to me. :)

  3. 6

    LisaL says

    I LOVE reading your post! They are so inspirational and I can relate to alot of them. This one is spot on. Your advice about finding the new kid resonated with me. I’ve been saying that to my son for as long as I can remember. I also tell him if he see’s someone sitting along or looking for a place to sit in the lunchroom to always invite them to join his table. I have explained to him that if he was the one looking for a place to sit, I would want someone to reach out to him. A simple gesture like that may not be a big deal to to him but can mean the world to someone else.

  4. 9


    Your post really made me think and I love the part you included about giving our children a safe place to fall and fail. We’ve always reminded our kids that home is safe and a place where we can truly be ourselves. Kristen, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! BTW, I’m reading “Rhinestone Jesus” for the 3rd time; this time to my children:)

  5. 10


    I recently happened upon your blog, and I’m really enjoying your posts! My children are not quite school age yet, but this is really helpful to think about as I am trying to teach and train them how to be more like Christ. Thanks for the tips!

  6. 11


    great post, all of it, but this part right here: It’s not really about tolerance; it’s about love. this is my fav. thanks for sharing

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