Elements of Waldorf Education: Inner Work

inner-work-4When I tell people I homeschool, one of the first reactions is for people to tell me why they don’t. Interestingly enough, the reasons most people give me have nothing to do with best educational practices or money or time. The most common reasons I hear for not homeschooling have to do with the lack someone feels they have in themselves. The two most common reasons being, “I don’t have the patience” and “I’m not organized,” with the third not so far behind, “I’m not smart enough myself.” Funny – but don’t public school parents, and childless adults need these things as well as home educators?

 

One of the really cool aspects of a Waldorf Education, and one of the reasons I am a proponent of it’s use, is that the teacher (or parent-teacher, in the case of homeschooling) works on his/her own personal character. This is called Inner Work, and the concept is that one must work on themselves in order to teach children.

inner-workRudolf Steiner, the philosopher and founder of Waldorf Education, wrote, “You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.”

A Waldorf Education is onto something important here. Personal growth should be a goal for all of us – not just home educators – but as home educators, it is the core and starting place for educating your children.

Why is it so important for educators?

So we are worthy of imitation. Children do what we do, not what we say. Therefore we should do and be what we want our children to do and be.

 

Deut. 6: 1 – 9

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“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.

inner-work-3This is one of the most commonly taught passages of scripture on parenting. But the parenting part is a result of the personal part. God command YOU to love the Lord and to obey him – and then as you live out your life doing so (as you sit, and go about, and go to bed, and get out of bed) you teach your children to do the same as you are doing. Imitation.

I love the concept that as you follow God, “you will multiply greatly.” This is not just talking about having more children – it is talking about your children have an abundance of what you have (a love of the Lord), and your children’s children having even more. I know one of my greatest joys in life is watching my preschool age grandkids talk and sing about loving God!

inner-work-2The most important aspect of homeschooling (or teaching, or parenting) is focusing on my own relationship with Christ and my own personal growth – Inner Work.

How do I do Inner work?

Rudolf Steiner recommended meditation. I agree – but only if you meditate on the right thing!

In Psalm 119:15 David is speaking to God when He writes, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.”

The true means of Inner Work is to meditate on God’s Word, and to fix our eyes on Christ and His ways.

In the New Testament, Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18)

inner-work-9One of the interesting things about personal growth – is that our focus should not be on personal growth. Let’s look at the verses above for example –

In the Deuteronomy passage our focus is on loving God and keeping His commandments – or on obedience to Him. In Psalms, we meditate on God’s principles and ways. And in II Peter, we build knowledge of Jesus.

Our personal character, and building our self-esteem is never our focus or our goal. Instead, it is the result of focusing on Christ and obeying God’s Word.

Galatians 5:22 – 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

When we focus on God and obey Him – love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control will be the resulting fruit that the Spirit produces in us.

Now I’m going to get real. If you don’t have enough patience to homeschool – then you have a deeper issue than your inability to teach your kids – a spiritual issue – and issue in your relationship with God.

Waldorf Education starts with a teacher’s Inner Work. As Christians, our Inner Work needs to be spending time with our Lord and Savior by studying His Word and obeying it. And God will grow you into a person who is worthy of the imitation of your children.

inner-work-8

*Over the next few blogs, I’ll be going over some of the basic elements of a Waldorf-inspired education. Stay tuned for: Delayed Academics, Rhythm, Block Learning, Circle Time, Handwork, Art, Nature Learning, Stories & Books,

Grace: Mommy Superpower

Mother 10

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.

Psalm 2

“Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.”

― R.C. Sproul (and God laughs – Joyce Pinero)

Read Psalm 2

Pss 2.1What’s it say?
List everything you learn about God:

What’s it say about me?List everything it say about who we are as God’s followers. What we should do.

What’s it mean?

There are two verses in this Psalm  I’d like to look closer at: Psalm 2:4 and Psalm 2:12

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision. (2:4)

I love the concept that God sits in heaven and laughs. But what is He laughing at?

God is laughing at what happened in verses 1 – 3. God is laughing, mocking (thus the word derision) the fact that people think they are in charge. God is in control. We are nothing but His creation. He holds the world in His hands and sustains it. He gives each person the ability to breath and live each day. The concept of earthy man being in control and being able to break bonds which God has created is laughable, thus God laughs at man’s stupidity.

Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (2:12)

Since this was the verse that popped out at me first, I originally studied it first. I looked up ancient Hebrew cultural practices of kissing. Basically, there are two reasons for kisses – intimacy and to pay homage to one in authority.

Although a case can be made that we should have an intimate relationship with The Son, looking at the verse in context the meaning is to pay homage to.

The entire Psalm focuses on the Kingship and authority of God. He is in control; man is not.

In verse 2 God laughs at those who think they are in control, in verse 12 God goes even further to say that those who do not pay homage to, recognize, bow down and worship Him will perish from His anger and wrath.

What’s it got to do with me?

Do you believe God is in control?

Are you acting on the belief that God is in control, or are you trying to control things yourself?

Are you bowing down and “kissing the Son” in homage to His Lordship?

Is God the Lord of your life, and not just someone who created the world and then sits back and watches from afar?

What specific issues in your life do you need to turn over to God and give Him control?

Children’s Lesson

Print a picture of someone kissing (I used Cinderella and Prince Charming)

Read Psalm 2.

ps 2Who do you kiss? (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.)

Why do we kiss? (We love someone)

The Bible says to “kiss the son” – we do that because we love Him, but we do it for another reason too.

If you lived in olden times, when there were kings and queens, you would have bowed down and kissed the hand or ring of the king to show the king that you would do whatever he wanted. He in turn would protect you.

Let’s pretend to be Kings or Queens and subjects. You be the Queen first. Bow down and kiss your daughters hand. Now switch roles.

In this verse – we are told to kiss the Son because God is the King. He is in control. We kiss Him to tell Him we know He’s in control. And He will protect us.

Psalm 1

“Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing.” (Spurgeon)

Read Psalm 1.

Psalm 1.1

What’s it say?

* Read it without interpreting it. I really like to make lists for this.

Make a list of everything it says about God, what He does and who He is.

  1. Blesses
  2. Has a law
  3. KNOWs ways of righteous
  4. Punishes way of wicked

Make a list of everything it says about man (me/us). In this passage, make a list of the man who delights in the Lord, because that is the central character of this passage.

  1. Blessed
  2. Does not walk in counsel of wicked
  3. Does not stand in way of sinners
  4. Does not sit in seat of scoffers
  5. Delights in law of Lord
  6. Meditates on law of Lord day and night
  7. Like a tree planted by water
  8. Yields fruit
  9. Does not wither
  10. Everything he does prospers
  11. Won’t have to stand with sinners at day of judgement
  12. Righteous
  13. God knows his ways

What’s it mean? This is where you interpret, maybe cross reference, or read commentary.

As an English teacher and writing coach what sticks out to me is that this is a comparison paper.

The comparison is made between –

  1. The wicked and the righteous
  2. What the man who delights in the Lord’s laws should and should not do
  3. The results of delighting and righteousness

This is really just a summary of the lists, so no further explanation is needed.  What I really want to take a look at and study closer is the central theme of delighting in the law of the Lord.

Most Bible scholars and commentaries say “the law of the Lord” is all of God’s Word, not just the rules and regulations. I’ll go with that, simply because it sounds better to my American libertarian self. It also makes sense in context of the message of grace throughout the Bible, and that James 2:10 states, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” No one completely delights and keeps God’s laws, so this passage would apply to no one if not for the grace of God.

I love the word “delight.” It’s almost an onomatopoeia (there’s the English teacher in me again). It was similar in the original Hebrew word. The word originally was an Arabic verb which meant to “be mindful of, attentive to, to keep and protect.”

Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, a Biblical scholar and linguist in the early 1800s, states that the original meaning of the Hebrew word “delight” meant “to bend, incline toward.”

In other passages of scripture the word is used to describe a great desire, intense feelings toward, such as a man delighting sexually in his wife.

Interestingly, and probably the most important aspect of the word is that the verb “delight” always points the reader toward what is being delighted in. The emphasis is not on the verb itself but the object that is being desired. For example, if I were to say “red ball” – the ball is what is highlighted, not the color red. In Hebrew the word delight was more often used as an adjective than a verb – “delightful stones” Mal. 3:12.

So what’s that got to do with this particular passage? The Word of God is what is highlighted. The word of God is delightful. It is to be delighted in. It is to be mindful of, attentive to, kept and protected. We are to bend towards, and incline out life towards it. We are to have a great love and desire for God’s Word.

What’s it got to do with me?

We’ve seen the rewards of delighting in God’s Word, and the punishment for those who do not. We’ve seen what we should and shouldn’t do if we delight in God’s Word. So now I ask you:

  1. Does the Word of God make you happy?
  2. Does it get you excited?
  3. Do you feel obligated to read His word – or can you not get enough?
  4. Do you hunger for more of His Word?

Pray that God would allow you to “delight” in His Word.

“Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing.” (Spurgeon)


 

Children’s Study

Psalm 1Print off a picture of a tree to color. Write on the paper: “

Read Psalm 1 aloud to your child.

What’s it mean to delight? Love, cherish, be extremely happy with.

God wants us to love to read His Word and “delight” in it. (You can sing the B I B L E)

Can you stand tall like a tree? God tells that when we LOVE God’s Word, we will grow strong like a tree, with lots of sweet fruit, we will always be strong.

Whatever . . .

 

What is unconditional love?

 

Looking into my babies eyes and realizing I’d do anything for this eighteen pounder.
Is it unconditional love to want her to have a happy, healthy, successful life – and realizing I’ll do everything to get it for her. I’ll wake up before the sun is up to drive to sports practice, I’ll give up my own dreams and desires, both financially and time-wise, to make sure this little munchkin gets every thing she needs to succeed: the best education, the best clothes I can afford. I dream of opening her eyes to wonders this world has to offer , going to Disneyland, and to the ocean, and to the zoo, museums, concerts and plays. Is it unconditional love to want to make this child’s life easy and joyful?

 

 

Looking into my teens eyes and realizing I’d do anything for this beautiful young lady. Is it unconditional love to want to take all the pain she’s faced and replace it with joy? Wanting so much to give her all the things she hasn’t had – anything our money would buy, and our time would allow. We gave her experiences she’d never had that opened her eyes to the world around her, Disneyland, the ocean, air plane rides, and road trips. Is it unconditional love to want this teen’s life to be free from pain, easy, joyful, and successful?
I want so much to give my children every perfect gift, the American Dream, and an apple pie, but this isn’t unconditional love. Unconditional love is wanted the best for my them, and the best isn’t rapped in a good education, a star performance, a perfect appearance, or a happy life. The best is glorifying God in everything you do. So, unconditional love is praying that God will do “whatever it takes” to bring these kids, His kids, to a place in which they glorify Him.


For my oldest, God just whispered in his ear. For my next, God took away all her hopes and dreams, her health and her friends. For my next son, God has allowed him to witness things far beyond what is age appropriate. But, by the grace of God, all are choosing to glorify Him. And they have joyous lives, for there is no joy apart from a life in God’s arms.

I pray for my other two. I pray my eighteen pounder will listen to God’s voice from an early age, but if not, “Whatever it takes, Lord.”

And as for my beautiful teen, I wish I could protect her from any more pain, but she’s walked away from our protection. I just pray she won’t walk away from Gods. I pray that God will do “whatever it takes” to bring her to a place where her only desire is to glorify God.

The scariest prayer to pray is that those you love will have to go through “whatever it takes.” But if “whatever it takes” will bring them to their knees before a holy God – then bring it on.

Unconditional love is praying “Whatever it takes, Lord” even when your earthly desires cry out against such a prayer.