Monday, September 26, 2011

everyday worship

Paper was scarce in the 1700’s.  As I remember from Noel Piper’s excellent biography- talk on Sarah Edwards, some of the records of Jonathan and Sarah’s home that we have today are scraps of well-used paper with sermon notes on one side and shopping lists for Jonathan’s trips into they city on the other.    “Chocolate darling, and more paper...”  that kind of thing.  
Ann Voskamp has pointed out that those lists are sweet to look back on in years to come...  don’t throw out every meal plan, every schedule, every project list.  Some opportunities to look back on those little pieces of family life this year just might be counted as precious in days to come.   So, it’s in that spirit that I record a bit of our family schedule in this season.   

One day last spring, I indulged in a bit of an art project:  this page (above) that I would scan and save and print up weekly to hang on the fridge....  weekly tasks, kids’ activities, meals, guests, classes.  That morning I felt like it was a gift from God to find Psalm 16:5-6 to write over my days:  “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.  These lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.”  I took one little liberty and changed “The” to “These” to refer to the lines dividing between and holding up each of my days.  And now even those lines speak to me boldly:   each day and all that falls into them, have been ordered by the sovereign God, my Father, who does all things well, who loves me and counts me as precious to him.  That should settle my anxious soul, shouldn’t it!?
But pondering that “WORSHIP” over every hour, every day... I finally realized a very simple thing.  Like the bulletins that our church passes out on Sunday mornings, an order of worship, why not hammer out a simple order of worship for our home to help me be mindful of what our moments, these hours of laughter, learning, sweat, service, tears and occasional quiet together actually are?  Find an order for our every day worship service, our simple, ordinary lives together.  
It makes sense even more to me now, what Ann wrote about somewhere in One Thousand Gifts, about liturgy being rooted in the idea of 'public work'.  Yes-  public work, my daily service to our family, our guests, our neighbors, the regular rhythm of our days, is just this:  a service of worship to God.

Seeing it on the wall- “the time has come”- takes a lot of pressure off me.  I don’t feel like I have to squeeze in time for these most needful, important, beautiful things....  this way I realize that the nonessentials will have to fill the space around these first order priorities.  And I can see too that there is such joy and security in providing this kind of healthy regular rhythm for our kids.  
There are so many advantages, but just these two are enough to make me delight in having such an order for our days:  one, to free me up from having to make decisions throughout the day, to ease the weight of deciding when and how to make the most important things happen, and two, to help me keep my eyes on the truth that each day, this day, is a gift to me, a gift to give in return to the Giver.... a service of worship to Him.  

Elements:  Here I share too many details about the pieces of this plan for us...  honestly, skip it all unless you're crazy interested...

We've been battling sickness and some killer night-time teething/screaming sessions so the 6 am hasn't happened all that regularly the past few days, but we definitely get off to a better start when it does!  Morning exercise for me is usually just a stretch and some silly near-exercises to begin my reading and prayer time....  such a help to get my head and heart awake!

I'm so grateful to have examples and books to learn from about having set-hour prayer throughout the day.  (Here's a post and a book that I've loved.)  Another light I've seen this in lately is with the words of Come Thou Fount....  "bind my wandering soul to Thee."  I've decided that the shorter the tether that binds me to the Lord, the better.  To let time push me up against a stopping point often in the day, that helps me, reminds me to kneel in worship, receive even just a morsel of the Word, give all my cares to the Lord.... it's a very good thing for me.  6am, around 2pm, and 10pm are my times... and hopefully a still moment later in the morning too.....  just so good...

Story Time...  It's silly and even more so, sad, that for as much as I value reading to our kids, there would be days when it didn't happen at all.  And that wasn't because there were other so-glorious things going on.   It's honestly a helpful easy thing for me to be mindful of the time and not have to think any more about it...  "it's story time folks!"  And that means cuddling and talking together too.

Tea Time might just mean a piece of fruit and sip of water or it might mean we bust out the whole tea schabang.   But when it happens (and so far, this is the piece that has been the most variable from day to day) it always means that I get to sit at the table, look at my kids, listen to them, love them with my words, my eyes, my time, and maybe something yummy.  

A confession:  I've realized recently that if I let things go, just flow as they may, then I could go a whole day, or even several days, without hearing any thoughts or dreams, fears or desires, from my kids hearts or stories from their lives.  Without some carefulness, I can spend the whole day keeping things going, providing for their needs, intervening in their battles, and rescuing them from their sometimes foolish fearlessness.  But I do not want to miss a single day of hearing their hearts!

Story time, tea time, and bed time are the best for this right now.  Meal time would be sweet, but lets face it....  getting food in their bellies and the Word in their hearts, managing them not stabbing each other with forks, spilling everything, or falling out of our chairs again really does mean success at the table in this season.  Our four are five and under... and Vivi is just beginning with her table needs too now!

And bed time...  since we've already read in the afternoon (and maybe the morning too?) we often don't read at night.  This works well because sometimes it feels like we have guests more often than not and we don't want bedtime to take 2 hours....  But we're trying to make this one piece more as non-negotiable as prayer:  we talk with our kids at the close of our day.  What are you grateful for today?  Who did you have fun with today?  Do you need to forgive someone today?  Who can we pray for today?  What did you learn about God today?   Do you remember the verse we're learning this week?

I wrote that 10pm would be the end of the work day... Once the kids are in bed, 2 or 3 days a week, Matt and I have declared as time to be online after the kids are in bed and very often this "work time" is not so much work.... but sometimes work feels like it could fill all night until morning!  (language studies, homeschool prep, laundry, emails... you all know what I'm talking about!).  How very good and helpful it is for me to set an end time for work.  Tomorrow will come and very few things are actually so urgent that they MUST be done today.  Such peace in releasing...  and I *LOVE* getting daily time to connect with my man... to hear from him too, read together maybe and pray before bed.  All.  Such.  Good.  Gifts.

Last, we don't have anything scheduled for Sundays.  We know well in advance that that one day is for worship, rest and play together!
Of course next to all of this will be pitched out the window when we’re out of the house.  But that's pretty infrequent for us here-  we lead awfully local lives (as in, we stay in our apartment complex almost all week except for Sundays!).   So for most of the time that we're home, this little liturgy for our days is becoming a blessing for each of us.....  a rhythm of worship, a beautiful tune to live together.  May it be Lord, for your glory!

One more bit to share:  to learn from a much better source about helping our kids form habits of excellence, here is a great resource.   Laying Down Rails  (thanks JF!!)  is an e-book available from Simply Charlotte Mason and there's an audio seminar.  Sonya Shaffer makes the point (or maybe it was Charlotte's to being with?) that decision making is responsible for a huge portion of stress and a consumer of our time our time each day.  To train our kids (and ourselves!) with habits that will help them automatically incorporate excellence in their lives will be such a blessing to them to help their days flow more smoothly and fruitfully.  

1 comment:

  1. I cannot put into words how much this post blessed my heart on this day. Love you, friend!