I have been feeling weary lately. The America we love so much seems to be crumbling around us. Daily we are bombarded with news of death, government corruption, secular values, and the hatred of Christianity. Instead of feeling called to action I have felt sluggish, dragging my feet through the drudgery of daily routines. It wasn’t until I stopped to contemplate our school days that it dawned on me that homeschooling is just as much for me as it is for the kids. I have truth, goodness, and beauty right at my fingertips in the form of 6th grade science lessons, 2nd grade history books, and pre-school poems.
Every day we start our morning in worship. I plan these lessons out in the early days of summer and don’t stray far from them. Do you know what hymn I had scheduled for November, without even thinking about it? “God Bless Our Native Land!” Listen to these words taken from the ELS hymnal:
God bless our native land!
Firm may she ever stand,
Through storm and night!
When the wild tempests rave,
Ruler of wind and wave,
Do Thou our country save
By Thy great might.
For her our prayers shall rise
To God above the skies;
On Him we wait.
Thou who art every night,
Guarding with watchful eye,
To Thee aloud we cry,
God save the State!
“Guarding with watchful eye.” While we wait for elections results, what a great reminder that God certainly does know what’s going on down here!
But that’s not all. Last week I started reading aloud my 6th grader’s science book. Who else would she be studying but the great Dr. Jenner of the 1800’s, who dedicated his entire life to preventing smallpox. Smallpox! A disease that killed 1 out of 3 that became ill and drastically disfigured the rest. In 2nd grade lessons we studied the pilgrims and learned of the immense struggles they endured to protect religious freedom. Half of the pilgrims of Plymouth died that first winter. When spring came, those who had survived had the opportunity to return to the safety of England, but not a single person went back. American freedom meant more to them than their fear of sickness or death. How much does history ground us! How much our troubles seem to fade in the light of the heroes that have gone before.
Another thing we started doing this year is listening to folk songs once a week and learning about their origins. Because it’s now the Advent season I decided to teach traditional American Christmas carols. The very first one I pulled out was “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This poem was written on Christmas Eve 1863, in the midst of the bloody Civil War. Just two years earlier, Longfellow’s wife tragically died after her clothes caught fire, and he was in the midst of trying to nurse his son back to life after a devastating war injury. While listening to the carol with this knowledge, the lines struck my soul:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Till ringing, singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.” We celebrate the greatest gift of all this Christmas, God incarnate. Come to save me. Come to watch over America. Come to strengthen our kids’ faith. Come to uphold the church under pressure. Come to save the unbeliever. I thank him for this gift he has given me, the privilege to homeschool my kids, and be reminded daily of his unwavering love for us miserable sinners. “Peace on earth, good will to men!”
Laura Mears is a co-founder of the Lutheran Homeschool Association. She and her husband, Joshua, homeschool their four children in Lakeville, MN.