When my oldest daughter was four, she was an only child. We started our pre-school day with a Bible story, a poem, and a hymn during breakfast each morning. When my son came along, he fit right into our routine, laying on the table taking a nap or sitting on my lap. As the kids got a little older I decided I wanted them to memorize the liturgy that we would speak and sing at church, so we added more to our breakfast routine. As the years went on, our routine had blossomed into a twenty-minute morning time worship with a Bible story, scripture memory work, Catechism recitation, a small portion of the liturgy, and a hymn. After the arrival of our third child, who was very close in age to number two, our house became a mess of toddler energy. The last thing anyone wanted to do in the morning was sit down and sing and memorize long Psalms that they didn’t understand. I started to despair. Something that had become so precious to me seemed like it just wasn’t going to work. Between kids throwing Cheerios on the ground and big kid attitude problems, morning time worship seemed like a battleground ripe for sin. Could this really be edifying?
My favorite homeschool veteran mom and author, Cindy Rollins, did a morning time routine similar to ours. She always said that her “morning time” saved her family. When she felt her family of 8 boys and 1 girl was on the brink of a precipice, their morning time worship kept them afloat. Cindy always reiterated that everything would be ok in a dysfunctional homeschool if morning time was done consistently. So even if it was the only thing I did that day, I powered through. It was anything but virtuous. There were plenty of days that I interrupted a beautiful hymn to scream at a child that couldn’t stop talking. Was it even worth it to read God’s word in an angry voice? Was it good and right to teach the third commandment with my teeth clenched? It went on this way for years. Not days, or months, but for years! But we stuck to it. Every day for the past four years we have opened our homeschool day in worship. And now I see it. I finally see why we did it. It was not because I was faithful. It was not because it started us out on the right foot that day. It was because God is faithful to his promises. The promise that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Where is this “word of Christ?” In the liturgy. In the hymns. In the scriptures. My sinful leadership and the kids’ disrespectful attitudes are precisely why we should have kept going.
Last week our basement flooded. I handed my now 10 year old daughter our morning time worship plans and told her to get started while I went to assess the damage and start moving furniture. I was only working a few minutes before beautiful music started to float down the stairs. It was my four children, all singing the hymn “Jerusalem, My Happy Home.” Fifteen minutes later my daughter came down the stairs and said, “We are all done, Mom, what’s next?” Four years of frustration, and all along the Holy Spirit was alive and well, making His place in their hearts. Thanks be to God.
Laura Mears is a co-founder of the Lutheran Homeschool Association. She and her husband, Joshua, homeschool their four children in Lakeville, MN.