Grace: Mommy Superpower

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I just finished reading I Timothy and started II Timothy in my daily Bible reading, when something hit me: Paul, the author, greets his reader the same way in both books.

“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (I Tim 1: 4)

“May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.” (II Tim 1:2)

So, you know me – I had to research it. Paul literally uses a similar salutation at the beginning of all of his letters, and he ends them almost the same way. I Timothy and II Timothy end by saying, “Grace be with you all.” In the New Testament Paul blesses his readers with grace 26 times, peace 12 times, and mercy merely twice.

I could make light of it and say it was just a common greeting (which it was) – but I think it is more. I don’t think either Paul, or God the Ultimate Author, meant it as nothing but a flippant salutation. In fact, I would venture to say that because it is mentioned so many times – it is an important truth God wants us to grasp. God wants us to live in and live out His grace and peace.

I’d like to look at what it means to be given grace – as a parent.  (In my next blog post, I’ll do the same for peace.)

What is grace?

Simply put – grace is the unmerited favor of God.

Grace is often linked with salvation – salvation being a free gift from God.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Romans 2: 8 – 9)

So often, I stop grace there. God saved me because of His unmerited favor towards me. And that is awesome, and so hard for me to grasp – but it is not the only thing grace does – if it were, Paul would not have needed to tell Christians to have grace – it would have been redundant.

So what does grace mean to me on a day by day basis as a mom?

Mother 51) I am a Mom by the grace of God.

Jacob realized this. (Not that he was a mom – but that his children were given to him through grace)

“And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’” (Gen 33: 5)

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 137: 3)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

My children are a gift from God to me, given to me not because I did anything to “deserve” them – but because he favored me and wanted to bless me.

Mother 62) Grace replaces my pride

My six year old memorized more Bible verses than anyone else in Sunday School; my four year old could sing the Books of the Bible – both Old and New Testiment; and my teenager went on more mission trips than anyone else in youth group – and of course, that is because I am such an awesome mom! Or maybe, I’m not so awesome –My sixteen year old son wore a speedo to the community pool; my five year old ate a stranger’s sock at the McDonald’s playground; and my four year old screamed so loudly at a local restaurant that we were kicked out for the sanity of the other patrons. Being a mom is my greatest pride – and what keeps me humble.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Cir 12: 7 – 10)

My very loose translation of these verses: To keep me from having a big head – God gave me children who act childish – to keep my pride in check. I pleaded with the Lord to give me kids who always behaved and were better than their peers at everything, but He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast in my parenting – not because what I have done, but because Christ has given me the power I need to parent. I am content with not being the perfect parent, because when I am unable to deal with messy situations (and parenting is messy) – I allow Christ to “deal” through me – and others can see Christ more clearly.

mother 93) There is grace for my failures

I don’t know about you – but I am hardest on myself in the realm of parenting.

I realize the gravity of the task. I realize I am not supposed to feed my child a donut and chocolate milk for breakfast; I realize I am not supposed to yell at my kid when he puts gum in his hair; I realize that I’m not supposed to promise my child I’ll take her to the park – then get so busy I forget. I realize all the things I am supposed to do and don’t; and the things I’m not supposed to do but do. I realize these things – but sometimes/often I fail.

Sometime, somehow, someone told me it is not ok to fail as a parent – ever. So I beat myself up when I do. I image that my kids will grow up and be in some recovery group saying, “Hi, my name is …”

I cannot forgive myself. Literally – I don’t have the power to forgive myself, God is the only one who bestows forgiveness of sins – through grace, His free, undeserved grace.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7)

Christ takes my sins as a parent – forgives me, and exchanges my failures with his lavish favor. How incredible is that.


mother 83) Grace is my Mommy Superpower

My main ministry is to my family. God has called me to raise my kids for His glory. With a job – I may work 20, 40 or even more hours per week – but mothering is a 24/7 job. When I have “one of those days” – when the baby wants to do nothing but nurse, the two year old throws his spaghetti noodles on the wall, and the 5 year old just released the hamster from captivity – I dream of someone pointing at me and saying, “You’re fired!”

When Donald Trump is not around, when I can’t hand off the job to Dad, Grandma, or the sitter – God’s grace will give me everything I need to accomplish the task.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (I Cor 15:10)

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

God’s grace gives me the energy I need to hold and sing lullabies to my colicky baby when I’ve had little to no sleep; to clean the vomit after my child snuck into the pantry and ate the whole bag of Oreos; and to hug my screaming 5 year old when she believes she saw an ant at the grocery store.

Grace is my Mommy Superpower.

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Imitation: The Sincerest Form of Flattery – Unless it Reveals Your Flaws

 

Cheerleaders

My dad only wished my skirt was this long!

I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen my dad cry. The night I made the high school cheerleading squad was one. He knew how much I’d dreamed of it, how obsessed my practice had been and how I’d babbled for years about being a cheerleader. My sophomore year, my cheerleading coach told me I had to quit debate so I could devote more time to cheer. I cried. Then I quit cheer. It was one of those decisions in life that defines you as a person. Somehow my fifteen year old self knew that my soul would be more satisfied in research and rhetoric than physical excellence and social notoriety.

Thirty (and change) years later, I would still rather feed my mind than my body. I much prefer researching educational philosophies to planting rose bushes. I’d rather read a book than bake bread. Words are my favorite art medium.

Thus the challenge. Rose would rather play on the phone or the computer than do handwork or play outside. It dawned on me that she wants to be like me. She has at least ten good years left before she decides if she wants to be a nerd like me.

All dressed up

Like mother like daughter

Her life and learning revolves around imitation. Joop van Dam in his article Understanding Imitation through a Deeper Look at Human Development wrote, “Imitation lives and moves in the child with these two legs or wings: that which opens to the world inwardly from the body and that which opens to the world in trust…Whenever children have the chance, they will eagerly watch a craftsman at work. They see the blacksmith, for instance, and drink in his gestures, and, later, they will play them out. These work gestures build the body. When a child has the opportunity to do many kinds of work in the first seven years, then she is able to build up her body in differentiated ways. Her body becomes an instrument with all kinds of tones and colors. This is a body the individuality can enter and live in for a lifetime.”

Imitation, according to Waldorf education, is the second law of childhood. It is also Biblical. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

So, I need to be and do what I want Rose to be and do. I need to remake myself.

climbing tree 2

Maybe we’ll wear more appropriate clothes

I need to get in touch with the me I was before the Debate vs. Cheerleading decision. The me that built Barbie Dream houses on the branches of trees I had climbed. The me that was excited to eat Swanson Chicken Pot Pies because I had a new tin for creating mud pies. The me that ran races with the boys – and won. The me that created swimming holes from beaver dams. The me that spent hours searching river banks for the most beautiful rocks for my collection. I need to play more.

I also need to be a me I’ve never been. I really don’t like “meaningful work.” In fact, I don’t like anything that has the word “work” attached to it. I need to work more.

To work more, I need to:

Repent. God commands us to work, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. “(2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

Change my mindset. Work is not a bad word – in fact God told Adam to work before sin entered the world – which means God saw work as good. We were created to work. Work glories God. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

mother daughter

Mind-blowing: Rose wants to be like me!

I must be ever mindful that what I do is being seen and imitated by a growing young mind and body. “’Imitation’ is the magic word in the child’s education until the age of nine or ten, when it is gradually replaced by other forms of learning. The child’s habit of imitating us—filled with great trust and equally great expectations—exhorts us to be worthy of that imitation. Not lectures, but meaningful actions meld a ‘brain’ which is capable of thinking meaningful thoughts. Inconsistency has the opposite effect.” (Dr. Helmut von Kügelgen, The Laws of Childhood)

Now that I have been convicted, repented, and am changing my mindset on who I need to be and what I need to do, I must do it. Here’s my game plan for this year:

  1. Have a house cleaning routine. I set this up last fall, but haven’t really worked it. I’m going to be more consistent.
  2. I’ve already began loving to cook. I love the smell of chopping fresh herbs, and garlic and onions sautéing in a skillet. I truly feel happy and fulfilled when I serve a wholesome delicious meal.
  3. This spring, I’m learning to garden. This is a huge leap of faith, as I kill even indoor plants, and gardening is a lot of work (Ugh)
  4. Do more handwork. I am currently hand-making two quilts for my new grandbabies. I actually like this job. There is something so relaxing about feeling the texture of cashmere in your lap, and the melodic rhythm of hand stitching.
  5. This summer, I am going to teach myself to knit – so I can teach Rose next school year.

I’m a little scared – scared of falling back into comfortable patterns, and scared of failure, and mostly scared of not being worthy of Rose’s imitation. But I’m also excited about this new adventure and the changes God is making in me. Don’t think I’ll give up the old, book-loving, research-obsessed, want-to-be-writer, me – I will just save the nerdy me for after Rose goes to bed.

Feel free to ask me how it is going – I need the accountability.

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.

 Thanks 3

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.

Forest School

“The best kept classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky” Margaret McMillan (c1925) Nursery Schools and the Pre-school Child NSA Publication

climbing tree

I was so proud when I could finally climb the walnut tree. I had conquered the apple a couple years earlier, but the lowest branches of the walnut were higher than my little arms could reach even by leaping off the ground. When I finally learned to shimmy up the trunk so I could pull myself into it’s outstretched arms, I felt so close to heaven. It was my favorite spot in our yard. Who needed a pink highrise house for Barbie? My Barbie and Skipper would ride by their hair in my clenched teeth as I took them to their tree house in the sky. The leaves and branches became their home.  I discovered Amelia Bedilia, Pickles the Fire Cat, and Danny and the Dinosaur in the warmth of its branches.

Growing up in Portland, Oregon afforded me the luxury of discovering and falling in love with the outdoors. Our yard was overgrown with wild berries, which brush created natural hiding places. It hosted an apple and walnut tree and a few fruitless ones, including the one which gave me secret passageway into my bedroom window on the second story.  And the scent of lilacs will forever give me the warm fuzzy feeling of home, as we had them in front of the house.

Day trips took me to the mountains, were I remember forging a beaver dam to make swimming hole in a mountain creek. Another trip took me to the ocean, were I searched long hours for whole sand dollars. In later elementary school, fishing trips were a time to get by myself, sit on a large rock or log and sing praises to God as I listened  to the stream rippling over the rocks.  I felt completely at peace with myself and with the world.

Guess its mid-life crisis that makes me want to get back to my roots. I married a city boy and we raised our older kids in the Dallas Fort Worth suburbs, and I drove them to and fro to this activity and that. They have grown into godly wonderful individuals who had different growing up experiences than I did. But, I desire to share my love of nature with my little one. It will just take a little more effort since we live in a subdivision that mowed down all the trees before building “little boxes made of ticky tacky … little boxes all the same.” (Malvina Reynolds, Little Boxes)

This new found desire has lead me to research Forest Schools. “The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through an innovative, long term, educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.” (https://www.forestschools.com/).

Off the trail adventure

Spiritually, my goal for Rose and myself, is to experience and worship God in a new way.

The Bible is clear that nature is important and it brings us a greater understanding of who God is.

“God’s invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  (Psalm 19:1)

0 July 13Nature helps us understand ourselves and our place in the world.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him” (Psalm 8: 3 – 4)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25 – 30)

I want my daughter to learn to worship outside the church walls, experiencing nature as it worships the Living God.

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“Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord.”  (1 Chronicles 16:33)

“the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD.” (Psalm 96:11 – 12)

I pray that someday Rose will sit alone on the side of a running stream under a canape of trees and lift her voice in praise the Creator of all.

Whistle While You Work

Work is Good. In the beginning, God made man. He put him in the Garden of Eden and gave him work to do. “The LorMeaningful workd God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Man was given work BEFORE sin entered the world. Man was created to find purpose through work. Work is not a result of sin, work is good and perfect.

I believe sin distorted the concept of work. One of God’s punishments for Adam’s disobedience was that there would now be toil in the work. The work would now be hard. And somehow man interpreted it as work itself is part of the punishment for evil.

God is glorified when we work – because that is what He designed us to do.

The Bible tells us to work, to work with a good attitude, and to work for the Lord and not for man.

“Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:4)

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for man.” (Colossians 3:23)

If we were designed to work – shouldn’t we teach our children to do so?

Waldorf is a big proponent of “purposeful work” – especially for early education, but I believe it should run throughout.

What is purposeful work and how is it accomplished?

The idea is that teachers, in homeschoolers case parents, keep busy working, so the children can imitate and work along side. When indoors, parents can cook, wash dishes, dust, sweep, do laundry, mend clothes, etc. Outdoors, parents can weed, rack, garden. According to Rudolph Steiner simply watching adults work is bendficial to a child’s development. “If before the seventh year children see only foolish actions in their surroundings, the brain will assume the forms that adapt it to foolishness in later life.” (“The Role of Purposeful Work in a Waldorf Kindergarten” http://www.waldorflibrary.org/articles/736-the-role-of-purposeful-work-in-a-waldorf-kindergarten)

As I researched, I read a wide array of ways teachers accomplish purposeful work. I have to admit I found some to be outright funny. Carving a spoon, to me is not purposeful work – washing, drying and putting a store bought one in the drawer is. Carving a spoon is at best handwork, a craft project – but purposeful work it is not. I  have also read that “purposeful work” is living like it was 1950 – washing clothes and dishes by hand, etc. But for those of us living in the 21st Century – it is not overly purposeful, unless your purpose is to live off the grid – in which case you are probably not reading this blog.

To me, purposeful work is doing the things that need to be done to live NOW – cooking, cleaning, laundry, car repair, yard work, caring for animals. Seriously – I have enough to do without creating more work for myself. I personally have no objection to a washer and dryer and gasp – a dishwasher.

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Children develop in multiple ways when they engage in purposeful work – physical, mental, character, social and spiritual.

Physical – Sweeping, racking, pulling weed all take muscles. What you can’t see is many of the of these movements also develop right left brain connection through cross-over movement.

Mental – Kids can learn problem solving through figuring out which is the flower and which is the weed. They also learn pay attention to detail as they wash a dish and examine it to see whether there is still food stuck on it.

Character – – “Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delayed gratification.(http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/responsibility-and-chores/part-i-benefits-of-chores/#benefits)

Social – When kids work along side their parents and siblings they see themselves as being an intricate part of the family unit and to society. They can be proud of being a  contributing member of a group.

Spiritually – If we teach our kids to “work as unto the Lord” they are connecting to their Creator as He designed them to be.

Work is good. Work is good for kids.

Have have you incorporated purposeful work into your daily rhythm?

Waldorf is Lovely

LovelyFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

As Christians, we are to fill our minds with beauty. Waldorf education is beautiful – just google image it. The lazure walls, the play silks, wet -on-wet painting, natural toys, outdoor play and gardening, verse recitation, music, and dance all surround the child with things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Let’s take a look at some of the elements of a Waldorf education from a Biblical point of view.


Verse

VERSE Walter Crane

The Bible says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

You’ve heard the saying “Garbage in, garbage out.” What children fill their mind with is what will come out in their habits and character. Freya Jafke wrote for International Waldorf Kindergarten Association, “Human speech surrounds the newborn child from its first day. It creates an atmosphere permeated with spirit into which the child “breathes himself.” The child imitates, listens, absorbs and at the same time forms himself.”

The use of verse fills a child’s mind with those things which are worthy of thought.

God commands that we memorize His Words, and keep them with us. “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” (Deuteronomy 11:18)

By mixing beautiful verse and Bible verse throughout the day – day in and day out – we are helping Children take control of their thought, which will eventually build their character and be the basis of their decisions.


Music

Music

In early education, vocal song, verse and directions are interwoven throughout the day. The Bible states that we should, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19) According the The Well Balanced Child, by Sally Goddard Blythe, “Singing is particularly powerful in entertaining the listening and voicing skills which underlie spoken and written language.” Learning vowels and consonants a well as developing the memory are important outcomes of music.

But the importance of music is even deeper. It touches the soul. God created us to be instruments of His praise. From Genesis to Revelation, music runs throughout.

Making musical instruments was one of the first professions in the Bible – recorded right after the account of Adam and Eve. “His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” (Genesis 4:21 – 22)

In early Hebrew history the musicians were charged with being in front of the army. God’s praise preceded the battle, which God had already declared victory over. (Read 2 Chronicles 20)

The Psalms are songs written for the purpose of magnifying God through verses covering every aspect of life.

As teacher parents, our ultimate example is to be like our Heavenly Father – and HE SINGS OVER US!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. he will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 2:17)


Dance/Movement

Night Dance

Waldorf believe that there is a clear connection between dance and movement and brain development – with much scientific proof to back it up. It is used in eurythmy to enhance speech and it is used in recitation to memorize. Let’s be practical, anyone working with small children knows that working with the wiggles is so much easier than containing them.

Like music, dance is a bodily expression of the soul. Sprinkled throughout the Bible are passages about praising God through dance.

“Let them praise His name with dancing.” (Psalm 149:3)

“David danced before the Lord with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14)

“Praise Him with tambourine and dance.” Psalm 150:4


Art

Painting

God is the Greatest Artist. The Creator. Psalm 8 describe the earth as “the work of His fingers.” Not only did God create, but He was the first art critic. After each day of creation, He evaluated his masterpiece and said, “It is good.” Psalm 104:31 states, “The Lord rejoices in His works.”

Humanists have stated that from the beginning of man, art has been an integral part of human nature. The Bible tells us why. God created man in His own image. God is the great artist, and we were created to reflect His character.

God also commissioned artists. After Moses lead the people out of Egypt, the Lord tells Moses to have a man named Bezalel artistically design a temple. Not only did He commission him, but God states, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:3 – 5)

God delights in the creativity and artistic expression of His people. Thus, as Christian educators, why would we neglect such an important aspect of who God designed us to be?


In conclusion, I believe Waldorf methodology can be ued successfully to teach kids to glorify God. In doing so, we must evaluate everything we teach by Philippians 4:8:

Is it true? Is it Biblical, since this is the measuring stick for truth?

Is it honorable?

Is it just?

Is it pure?

Is it lovely?

Is it commendable?

Is it excellent?

Is it worthy of praise?

If the answer is yes, fill the kid’s minds to the brim with it – so there is no room for junk.

Head, Heart, Hand

head heart handOne of the things I love about Waldorf pedagogy is the focus on the whole child: teaching the head, heart, and hands of the child.

Although all three are always included in the educational process, one of the three is emphasized according to the child’s age and development.

Steiner (1861–1925) taught that from birth to six, the hands and will of the child is the focus. From seven to thirteen, the heart and feelings are centered on. And from fourteen on the thinking and head are emphasized.

In my mind, this somewhat coordinates with Aristotle’s (384—322 B.C.)  classical methodology which breaks the learning process into three age groups – grammar, logic and rhetoric. The five to nine year old learns through recitation and hands on learning – the hands, the ten through thirteen year old is taught how to think – using his head, and the teen is taught how to eloquently express what he discovers and thinks – combining the head, heart, and hands.  The age before school is not usually addressed.

Let’s take the concept of teaching the head, heart, and hands back even further in educational history to the Biblical book of Deuteronomy (believed to be written between 641–609 BC)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9)

Jesus later added the word “mind” to the command to love the Lord. God commands parents to “teach” children’s hearts, souls, might, and mind. Although the Biblical lesson does not break it down by age – it does give insight in how to accomplish this.

“Words that I command you today shall be on your heart” – through feeling, emotions, and memorization.

“Teach them diligently” – Diligent means “constant in effort to accomplish something” (dictionary.com). Therefore we are to incorporate rhythm, consistency, and review.

“Talk of them … when you sit …walk … lie down …rise” – Teach the head through “talk,” discussions, lectures, instilling knowledge verbally – in an ongoing dialogue.

“Bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” All of which are very hands on, physical means of teaching.

Notice God instructs His believes to use all the senses to teach (see it, hear it, touch it). In other parts of the Bible He covers the other two:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. “With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. “You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you.” (Exodus 30:38)

“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8)

Although I don’t agree with all Steiner’s philosophy behind his head, heart, hands methodology – teaching the whole child has its roots in both Classical and Biblical pedagogy.

Note: To read more about Steiner’s philosophy of teaching the whole child I recommend

“This is Not Head-to-Head Education”: Whole Child Development in a Waldorf School by Elisa Sobo

https://kellogg.nd.edu/learning/Sobo.pdf

It is fairly easy to read and understand and it summarizes the original well.

God Created Rhythm

Reading

Rhythm is the routine of living – learning, sleeping, eating, working, playing, celebrating.

Rhythm is natural because it was created by God.

God marked days and nights.“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”  Gen 1: 3-5

God created the earth in six days, rested, set some days as holy (which means set apart).“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11

God controls the seasons.“He changes times and seasons;God instituted celebrations. “ Daniel 2:21

God ordained celebrations.The Bible is full of celebration. The biblical God loves a celebration: feasting, rituals, uniting with family and community was mandated by God.

Living and teaching with a yearly, seasonally, weekly and daily rhythm is good because it connects us to  God Himself.

Rhythm is the baseline of Waldorf-inspired education.

Children crave rhythm. How many times can you read the same book, tell the same story, or sing the same song to your child?

When a child witnesses leaves falling off of a tree, the tree laced with snow, the new leaf buds, and the green canopy overhead, he is experiencing God’s rhythm in nature. Going along with that rhythm, in as to how and what to teach at various times of the year, only seams natural and logical.

Daily rhythm helps a child feel secure because they know what to expect. Most parenting books will tell you the importance of a nighttime routine aids in the sleep process. But when rhythm sloshed from a simple bedtime ritual into the sunlight, I saw many of Rose’s anxieties wean, and she developed a greater sense of peace and security.

Create an external rhythm, is helping her create a greater internal rhythm. And the nee for discipline has decreased. I believe this is because many of her discipline problems stemmed from stress, not knowing what was expected, lack of sleep, and over-stimulation. Many of these issues are eliminated by balancing the daily rhythm in our home.

I’ve also noticed a heightened expectation around holidays and birthdays. When we do the same thing from year to year, there is excitement in the preparation, and peace in the presentation.

Ultimately creating rhythm in our family’s life and in education process has brought about greater peace and joy.

Christian Waldorf?

Chrisian Waldorf

My life has one overriding purpose. . . Nothing else matters: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever

My parenting has one purpose. ..thus my homeschooling has one purpose: to teach my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

So when deciding how to teach and what to teach, I ask myself, “What is the best means of teaching my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?”  I have chosen Waldorf. Not a popular choice for Christian homeschoolers.  Most Christian homeschoolers aren’t familiar with Waldorf, and those who are, are often negative.

Today, I’d like to examine why I believe a Christian Worldview can be taught using Waldorf pedagogy.

Please reread my last sentence. I want to emphasis, my goal is to teach a Christian Worldview USING Waldorf … not to teach Waldorf and incorporate Christian theology. There is a difference, and that difference makes all the difference.

What is Christianity?

The American Heritage Dictionary, 2005, states that Christianity is “the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent by God. They believe that Jesus, by dying and rising from the dead, made up for the sin of Adam and thus redeemed the world, allowing all who believe in him to enter heaven. Christians rely on the Bible as the inspired word of God.”

Christians believe there is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Christians also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Therefore the Bible is the only means of absolute truth because it is God’s words revealed to man. The Bible speaks on its own validity when it states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30: 5 – 6

What is Christian Worldview?

People live what they think. Therefore, a Christian Worldview is when all of life, all ideas, all beliefs, and all events are filtered and interpreted through the Bible, the only means of absolute truth. Therefore, all choices come from a biblical perspective and the result is a lifestyle that looks more and more like Jesus himself.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

What is a Christian Education?

A system of education in which all learning focuses on loving God. All subjects, all philosophies, all sciences, everything that goes into the mind is evaluated according to the truth of God’s Word and for the purpose of loving God fully.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4 – 7

What is Waldorf education?

Waldorf education is an educational method which focuses on the whole child as he grows and changes in different stages of his life.  It is based on the philosophy of anthroposophy which was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early twentieth century.

What is anthroposophy?

The Anthroposophical Society in America states, “Anthroposophy is a discipline of research as well as a path of knowledge, service, personal growth and social engagement.  Introduced and developed by Rudolf Steiner, it is concerned with all aspects of human life, spirit and humanity’s future evolution and well-being.”

In contrast to the Christian belief that truth is based on God, Anthroposophy claims that humans create truth. Steiner states, in “truth is a free creation of the human spirit that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.” (Steiner, Truth and Knowledge, Introduction to the Philosophy of Freedom, Introduction) Therefore, the basis of anthroposophy is humanism and existentialism.

Is Waldorf Christian?

Waldorf is not Christian.  Waldorf is spiritual in nature, but that spirituality is based on the presupposition that man is eternal and has a soul. Waldorf schools around the world claim to embrace all religions equally, including Christianity.

Yet at the base of Christianity is the belief that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ. To a Christian, man is spiritual because God created him in His image in order to have an eternal relationship with him.

And once again, Christians believe the basis of truth is the Bible and Waldorf believes the basis of truth is anthroposophy (existentialism).

Can I use Waldorf without accepting anthroposophy?

I believe the answer is yes. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  I would ask is any educational method “Christian”? Christianity is a belief and a lifestyle, not an educational method. Using textbooks or unit studies is no more “Christian” than Waldorf teaching materials. The Bible does not dictate a specific technique for teaching.

Waldorf education was developed through observation of children and the study of child development. Modern scientific research on the brain advocates for similar teaching methods. Waldorf also has many similarities to Classical education (based on Aristotle, a non-Christian’s philosophy) – especially three stages of childhood learning. For me personally, Waldorf has elements that logically make sense.

Truth is always grounded in the word of God, even if it originated from a non-Christian. I believe there is a lot of truth in Waldorf pedagogy.  Using the methodology is an educational choice which is neither Christian nor pagan.

How can Waldorf pedagogy and Christian principles work together?

Many specifics of a Waldorf education can either be directed toward knowing God more fully, or because God created them.

  • Rhythm = God Created Rhythm
  • Teaching to Head, Heart, Hands = Teaching to love God with Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength
  • Art = God is the Creator and part of being created in His image is creating
  • Reciting Verse = The Bible says to take every thought captive, this is training in doing so
  • Music = Sing and make music to God
  • 12 senses = God Created the Senses so we would know and love Him
  • Emphasis on nature = God gave man stewardship of the earth
  • Purposeful Work = Work as unto the Lord
  • Teaching to the Temperaments = God Created us as individuals to worship Him fully
  • Fairy Tales =Teaches godly character traits and that good triumphs over evil
  • Dance and Movement = Dance unto the Lord

Many other elements of Waldorf are neither Biblical nor non-Biblical, but personal choices:

  • Delayed Academics
  • Block Learning

Steiner may have developed Waldorf education, but God developed humans, and the basis of Steiner’s research is rooted in truth. Thus, I believe you can use a Waldorf based education to teach a Christian worldview.