IMG_2591I love starting the school year in January. It seems like we are all so fresh for a new start, even though it’s not technically the beginning of the Jewish new year (which happens during Yom Teruah). Right in the middle of the cold, dark months, it’s the perfect time to break out the new books and pencils for the new year. My kids are all very excited to start.

We recently thought it would add an element of richness to our school year if we had a theme for the year. It’s easy to make a list of goals and New Year’s resolutions that end up falling by the wayside after a few weeks of concerted effort. This is different. We wanted to think of something that we really desire for ourselves and our children in the coming year. This idea will be on the forefront of our minds, and we will do our best to incorporate it into decisions we make, prayers we pray over the kids and our marriage, and Scriptural studies and journaling that we do all year long. Then, at the end of 2014, we will have (hopefully) compiled some amazing insights that have greatly enabled our growth in the Lord. After some prayer and discussion, we have determined that our theme for this school year will be “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6

We have seen plenty of wickedness, heartache, war, suffering, and discord all around our world in 2013. It has served to remind me that I don’t ever want to let down my guard down when it comes to fighting for my children’s souls. They will be offered counterfeit “food” for their hearts everywhere they look, and as they get older and see even more what the world has to offer it becomes even more critical for us to endeavor to impart a hunger and thirst for the pure and fully-satisfying righteousness that only comes through Him. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is not a pursuit that involves our own will and abilities, for those will always fail (though we do have to ultimately make a choice to obey). It’s not about trying to be good and want better things for our souls; it’s about trusting and utterly depending on Yeshua having completed His work once and for all and offering to give us that righteousness for free. We only have to hunger and thirst for it, which is no easy task in a culture submerged in distractions. This year, I want to hunger for His righteousness more than ever before. Let not the soulish pastimes, the TV shows, the books, the worthless pursuits and time-wasters take over my heart when He desires my full attention. Let me seek the best more than the good – seek HIS righteousness first before filling myself with anything else. Put in my children, Lord, a deeper desire for the things of You. Let them feel distinctly the dissatisfaction of what the world offers them and draw their attention to Your deepest-satisfying nature.

To this end, we are working on memorizing Scripture that has to do with Yeshua’s atonement this year. His centrality cannot be emphasized enough. Already, we have begun the work of memorizing Isaiah 53 as a family. What a wonderful passage of the Bible this is, and what a way to start out our year, meditating on just how devastating a price was paid for our righteousness in Him.

I love taking group shots for the first day of school. This one captures the joy that we all felt this morning as we ate breakfast and prepared to take on our day. Sometimes I catch myself looking twice at pictures of my whole brood because it seems like there are just SO many kids. The other day they were walking into a store with Pete and I totally did a double-take, thinking “are those ALL mine?” I hope never to lose the incredulous feeling that comes with being chosen by God to mother these beautiful babies. The more I know I can’t do it…and that is happening more and more frequently these days…the more I know that HE CAN. And that includes teaching long division.