by Katie Julius

One of my favorite times of the year as a teen was September when we headed back to school (I wasn’t homeschooled). It wasn’t so much that I was excited to actually go back to school; I was looking forward to all of my brand new school supplies. I loved shopping for all the new “goodies” that would fill my locker and backpack – pristine, blank pages in a spiral notebook, freshly sharpened pencils that came to a fine point, and crayons, markers, or colored pencils lined up like little soldiers, in perfect color order, completely untouched.

Even now, new office and school supplies excite me and it brings me excitement and joy shopping the back-to-school sales (though they’re much earlier than when I was a child). However, as much as the end of summer offers us the opportunity for a new start and new beginnings, especially as homeschoolers, I have found, that as an adult and parent, January is now the time of year when I long for a fresh start.

Maybe it’s the number of recitals, performances, and parties that fill the holiday season or the stress of shopping, wrapping, baking, and decorating that has me yearning for January when we can get back to our normal routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and all the ways we celebrate, but by December 25, I’m tired and ready for a fresh start.

As many of us pull out our teacher manuals, math manipulatives, and craft supplies for the first time in over a month, the clean, crisp pages of the planner stare back at us, offering many opportunities for learning, growth, and change (and I’m not talking about just the kids).

I long for January because it’s not only a new beginning, but it’s a second chance. It doesn’t matter that we only got through three chapters of history or five science units in the fall in the midst of the craziness of all the holidays. We pick up where we left off and just keep going, this time with a renewed sense of determination to do our best.

As I reflect on the changes I want to make in our home and school this January, I am reminded of verses I memorized as a young teen from the book of Philippians. Paul writes, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV, 1984)

If you’re not familiar with Paul’s life, until he was blinded by God on the road to Damascus, he persecuted followers of Jesus. Talk about second chances! Despite what he had done in his past, he continued to press on, preach the Gospel, and look to what was ahead of him (ultimately, eternity with God).

This January, when we are given the opportunity for a fresh start in our schools and homes, let it also be a reminder to us of the fresh start and second chance that God gives us through his Son.