Thanks – More than a Facebook Post

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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Winnie-the-Pooh

In a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner and recorded in The Child’s Changing Consciousness, Steiner said, “If, during the first period of life, we create an atmosphere of gratitude around the children, then out of this gratitude toward the world, toward the entire universe, and also out of thankfulness for being able to be in this world, a profound and warm sense of devotion will arise . . . upright, honest, and true.” Waldorf teachers are trained to teach gratitude.

But the idea of living a life of thanksgiving predates a waldorf education by thousands of years. Verses are sprinkled throughout the Bible instructing God’s followers to be thankful. My personal favorite, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So how do we as parent-teachers teach our kids to be grateful?

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  1. Develop a Thankful Heart

We are not thankful because of what we have, but because of who we are. Gratitude is not dependent on circumstances.

The Bible tells us to be thankful in ALL circumstances. James 1: 2-4 tells, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith  produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” We can be thankful even in the worst of circumstances because we know that there is a purpose for our suffering, and God is in control and at work in our lives.

Our kids need to see us being thankful in good times and in bad – but how do we replace the angry, hurt feelings with an attitude of thanksgiving? In Ephesians 5:4 Paul writes, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

John Piper explains, “The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.”

We are thankful just because we exist – and that very existence is dependent on God. Only Christians can have gratitude ingrained in their hearts and pour out in their speech and actions – no matter what circumstances may be.

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  1. Model Thanksgiving

Gratitude is caught and not taught.

When I verbally thank the stranger who lets me cut in the grocery line, or the waiter who pours my tea, or my child when she picks up her toys – my child sees and hears it. When I thank God verbally, both in head bowed prayer and eyes wide open exclamation – like thanking God when I get a good parking spot at Walmart, or praying and thanking Him for my food – my child sees me.

Steiner lectured, “An atmosphere of gratitude should grow naturally in children through merely witnessing the gratitude the adults feel as they receive what is freely given by others, and in how they express this gratitude.  If a child says “thank you” very naturally—not in response to the urging of others, but simply through imitating”

The greatest means of teaching my child to be grateful is to be grateful myself and allow my child to see that gratefulness.

  1. Practice Thanksgiving

Waldorf pedagogy can be implemented in the intentional teaching of thankfulness.

Recitation:

We can recite thanks throughout the day – for the new day, for play outside, and for the food we eat.

The important thing to remember as Christians who use waldorf methodology is who we give the thanks to is as important if not more important than the thanks itself.

Colossians 3:16–17 states “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

We are not called to a vague thanksgiving, but to God himself. Many waldorf verses thank the created instead of the created. For example:

I thank the earth beneath me

For there I stand and walk.

I thank the air around me

Which helps me breathe and talk.

I thank the sun so warm and bright

So far away in Heavens height

To keep me safe ’til morning light

God warns of this in Romans 1: 21 – 25 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Here’s some verses which thank God:

Thanks 4Start of the day:

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

For this new morning with its light,

Father, we thank Thee.

For rest and shelter of the night,

Father, we thank Thee (Emerson)

I thank Thee, Lord, for sleep and rest,

For all the things that I love best,

Now guide me through another day

And bless my work and bless my play.

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Playing Outside:

For flowers that bloom about our feet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,

Father, we thank Thee.

For the song of bird and hum of bee,

For all things fair we hear or see,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

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For Meals:

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee. (Emerson)

God is great and God is Good,

And we thank God for our food;

By God’s hand we must be fed,

Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

thanks 8Bedtime Prayers:

The day is past and over,
All thanks, O Lord, to Thee!
O Jesus, keep me in Thy sight
And save me through the coming night.
 

All praise to Thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light:
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Prayers from your heart:

Repetition is great for small children, but remember God wants us to just talk to him. Pray aloud – just talking to God and thanking him – and your little one will do so too. At bedtime, we pray and thank God for all the major things we did during the day. We thank God for all the people in our life that we love. And we thank God for being God and for loving us.

Stories:

Children learn through stories – so don’t forget to pepper your story selection with stories that teach gratefulness. Here’s a few tales:
King Thrushbear  
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/37381/37381-h/37381-h.htm#Page_152

Androcles and the Lion  http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0156.html

The White Snake  http://www.authorama.com/grimms-fairy-tales-36.html

Story of Ruth and Naomi (adapted from the Bible) https://www.gutenberg.org/files/45114/45114-h/45114-h.htm#Page_143

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Let’s remember: Gratitude is a lifestyle, not a 26 day countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook.

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