“Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9).

Recently, I have been writing a lot about old age and my 92-year-old mother’s struggle to find peace in assisted living. But now the fall semester is underway in Florida’s schools, and our Orlando grandchildren are on my heart and mind. They represent such an abundance of new life and hope and promise.

Rebekah is in fifth grade now; David is in sixth, beginning his middle school adventure. They are both excited, and eager to learn, and ready to take on new challenges.

There’s a tab in my photo-editing software that allows me to add ‘brightness’ to an image. But it’s obvious these kids don’t need it at all. Would you look at them shine! Here, then, is my word to our grandchildren (and all students in Florida), as they get this 2023-24 school year underway.

Dear David and Beks: When the Old Testament character Joshua was getting ready to lead his people into the Promised Land, he got the following message from God: “Be strong. Be brave. Be courageous. There is no need to be afraid, so long as you understand that I am going to be with you, always, wherever you go.”

Jesus said something along the same lines to his friends when He left them on the mountaintop in Galilee: “You can be sure,” the Teacher said, “that I will always be with you. Always. Until the end of time.”

Speaking as your Grandaddy Derek, I want you both to know that you are never alone. You are not only surrounded by love, but you are occupied by love too; love lives in you!

So this 2023-24 school year, David and Beks, is going to be one amazing experience. I look forward to watching you share both God’s light and God’s love with everyone you meet.

In love, and because love makes everything that is good possible. Your Grandaddy Derek.

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.