Favorite Christian Reads

 

 

I publish a post about my favorite Christian books about once a year, and in this Eastertide, I wanted to update what I have been currently reading and enjoying.

As part of the Anglican communion, we look toward the Church Fathers and many Celtic Saints as a source of illumination.  The book “Aidan, Bebe, Cuthbert:  Three Inspirational Saints” by Vicar David Adam (who was ordained in Durham Cathedral, the burial place of the Venerable Bede and St. Cuthbert and who became Vicar of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (where St. Aidan and St. Cuthbert lived), is a wonderful interweaving of the lives of these three Saints.  Wonderful read for those interested in these saints!

 

My twelve and a half year old daughter has read all the books by local (to us) author Jenny Cote.  This is the latest one she has read: http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Road-Epic-Order-Seven/dp/0899577938/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398907506&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wind+the+road+and+the+way.  This Christian series is a nice read for this age group.

 

I keep waiting for an Anglican parenting book to come out, but there are not any except an Anglican Family Prayer Book.  So, I recently bought a copy of “Orthodox Christian Parenting – Cultivating God’s Creation” by Zoe Press.  I highly recommend it to Christian readers who are coming from a basis of Holy Tradition and the Fathers of the Church as a lens for raising children.   Here is a link to this from Amazon; I am not certain if it is available cheaper somewhere else, but I did get my copy through Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Orthodox-Christian-Parenting-Cultivating-Creation/dp/0985191503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398907794&sr=8-1&keywords=orthodox+christian+parenting 

 

Right now, I am reading “What Is Anglicanism?” by Urban T. Holmes.  This is a good, solid read for those wanting to understand the history and theological foundations of Anglicanism.  There are so many deep and resounding thoughts in this one, especially in the chapter regarding “radical incarnationalism”; an appropriate theme for Eastertide!

 

Please share what you are reading!

Blessings on your Eastertide,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day 31

 

 

We began this journey in January, and we are at the end of our (non-consecutive) 31 days.  In the vein of those who set a New Year’s intention with “one word”, we have progressed through 31 words in order to help build our foundation for homes of peace.  This work grew specifically out of an impulse for parents who wanted help to not yell at their children.

 

Here are our 31 words for your meditation, thought and consideration:

 

open

reconciliation

attentiveness

reverence

courage

love

relentless

unity

building

time

haven

steady

warmth

inner work

re-assess

self-care

joy

boundaries

ho-hum

expectation

expert

quiet

constancy

eagle

potential

struggle

together

self-restraint

authentic leadership

missing

 

Perhaps one of these words resonates strongly with you, and you would like to do artistic work with this word.  Perhaps you would like to carry one of these words in your heart for some time.  There are many ways to work with these ideas in an individual manner.

 

Many blessings, and peace on your home,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day 30

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: missing . Read on for more

 

What are you missing by being so stressed out and angry at your children all the time?

You are missing peace of mind and heart.

You are missing opportunities for good connection and bonding.

You are missing building a great family.

You are missing the joy of having small children which will never come again.

You are missing building great relationships with your children.

You are missing  laughter and fun.

You are missing kindness.

 

Don’t miss out!

Build your gentleness, your kindness and your patience.

Create peace in your homes.

Create connection and bonding.

Create a great family!

Create joy!

Create great relationships!

Create laughter and fun!

Create kindness!

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Nine

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: authentic leadership. Read on for more

 

Children need a kind, gentle and connected parent.  They also need someone to help guide them, answer their questions, help them think of angles they may not have thought of before, to protect them, to make choices that will support and nourish them, and a myriad of other things.  These things require a gentle and authentic leadership from an adult.

 

You are the adult placed into this child’s life for a reason.  You have experience and gifts and talents to share.  Children are our greatest teachers, but yet we have things to offer with our unhurried time as a leader.

 

Being an authentic leader requires some thinking.  What are your family’s values, and why?  How is this shown, modeled, communicated (to older children)?  What are the characteristics of being an authentic leader?  Do the best leaders yell at people or do they do other things to motivate, teach, guide, and relate?  Do you have a sense of humor, a generous spirit, an ability to laugh and smile?  Do you have an ability to be decisive, to be assertive but not unfair or aggressive?  Can you take the viewpoint of the child, the consciousness of the child into your spirit so deeply and work from that?  All of these qualities have nothing to do with yelling to get what you want.  Yelling is often like trying to steer a car just by honking your horn very loudly!

 

No more yelling.  It doesn’t work at all.  Hug your children and love them.  Life is so short.  Be authentic, and be happy.

 

Blessings,

Carrie

Guest Post: Learning By Observing At A Waldorf School

 

My guest post tonight comes from long-time reader Bonnie.  Bonnie recently had the good fortune to go and observe a first grade main lesson period,  a second grade German class and a second grade Handwork class at a Waldorf school. I asked if she could write a guest post and explain what she learned as a homeschooling parent from observing these classes at a Waldorf School.  Here is what Bonnie had to say:

 

My visit to a Waldorf school as a homeschooling mom….

Last week, I had an opportunity to visit an open house at a prominent Midwestern Waldorf School. As a homeschooling mom to a 6.5 year old daughter and a 4 year old son, it took a lot of planning to make this happen, since the school is quite a distance from our house. But, I knew I had to go – I had to EXPERIENCE the Waldorf classroom for the grades.

Just to back up a moment, I should share with you that I have been a loyal fan of Waldorf and its lifestyle since before I even had kids. So much so in fact, that I visited an open house for a Parent-Child class when I was still pregnant with my first child. The teachers were shocked and all commented on how I was “starting early”. But, for me and I’m sure many of you, reading the blogs, books, and curriculums is not enough. I need to EXPERIENCE it – FEEL it – LIVE it. I want to have a deep sense internally of the beauty and feeling world of the classroom mirrored with the ideas and knowledge a Waldorf-trained teacher exhibits and exudes while working with the students – no matter what the age.

Currently, my daughter is finishing up her second year of kindergarten and will start first grade in the fall. I have been collecting information, curriculums, and ideas for first grade over the years and have a general sense of what is taught at this level. I’ve seen beautiful pictures of alphabet letters and chalkboard drawings on the internet and in curriculums, but I struggle with not only how do I bring this to my child, but what does it really look like, and more importantly, feel like? The ages of 7-14 are the feeling years – so this must be considered at some level. Hence, why I signed up to attend an open house.

So, without further ado, the morning of the open house…. I got there bright and early and was greeted by so many friendly parents and staff. Naturally, they shake your hand, make eye contact, and make you feel right at home. They walked me to a classroom where I met Mr. K., the first grade teacher, and whose class I would be experiencing for the next two  hours as he taught the main lesson. He was happy and full of energy. We chatted a bit and then he excused himself so he could meet and greet each child at the door. What I found amazing was that he greeted twenty plus children and every single handshake was not rushed, was authentic, and the child was met with sincerity and reverence. The children put their coats away, took their chairs down from on top of their desk, and then were eager to see the three new numbers he placed on the chalkboard for a “number puzzle”. Once everyone was sitting at their desk, they reviewed the numbers and looked for patterns. After this, attendance was taken. And, I don’t mean the teacher just checked off a name on his attendance sheet or monotonously said one name after the other waiting for a “Here”. Oh no, no, no……after all, this is a Waldorf school. The teacher sang, in a pentatonic scale, “Child’s name, are you here?” And, then the child sang back, “Yes, Mr. K, I am here.” And if a child wasn’t there, the whole classroom sang, “No, Mr. K, she’s not here.” I had goose bumps. Who knew taking attendance could sound so beautiful and magical?!

After attendance, the children stood up and did some stomping, clapping, and jumping jacks focusing on different numbers. Then, it was time for an in-breath. The children stood with their arms crossed over their chest and Mr. K turned off the lights. It was candle time – and a child lit the candle and they said their first grade verse. The candle was then blown out and he played the pentatonic flute, while the children hummed and sang, “Good morning sun. You’re looking through my window….” Once again, I was blown away, not just by their angelic voices but by also hearing singing coming from another classroom. I had read that in a Waldorf school, one could hear singing all day long. That’s great – but, I had no idea what that would feel like at a soul level, especially in a pentatonic scale.

After singing, the children pushed their desks/chairs out of the way and sat on the top of their desk, so there was room in the middle of the classroom for circle time. The teacher turned the lights on, signaling an out- breath. He started to sing, Continue reading

Celebrating Lent and Holy Week With Children

 

Holy Week is upon us!  I wanted to share a few ideas with you all about celebrating Lent and Holy Week.  Lent is such a beautiful time.  I love what Orthodox Christian priest Anthony Coniaris writes in his book, “ Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home”:

It is significant that Lent happens to coincide with Spring in the northern climes.  I think there is a wonderful lesson for us in this happy coincidence.  Lent should be for all of us a period of placing ourselves in the position where the best things can happen for us.  That position for Orthodox Christians is the presence of Christ, where the Sun of His love and power can shine into our arid souls to bring about a real awakening, a real springtime of the soul.

 

Here are some brief suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week: Continue reading

Children First, From the Start

 

 

With interest, I read this 35 paged report called “Putting Children First”  available here:  http://www.savechildhood.net/putting-children-first.html.  This is a United Kingdom publication, but the challenges these children are facing are similar to here in the United States:

 

Young children today are subject to a range of cultural pressures that were simply unknown to previous generations. Family life has significantly changed, they live in a rapidly advancing digital world, they are much less trusted and more controlled, they have fewer freedoms and significantly less access to nature, they are highly vulnerable
to the dangers of commercialisation and sexualisation and the quality and depth of their learning in the early years has moved from being intrinsically connected to family and community to become increasingly seen as primarily a preparation for later schooling. Child wellbeing in the UK has been the subject of increasing concern. Currently one
in ten children is being diagnosed with a mental health disorder,4 one in three is clinically obese,5 one in 12 of our adolescents deliberately harm themselves and nearly 80,000 children and young people currently suffer from severe depression including 8,000 children aged under 10 years of age. This is a deeply worrying situation that needs to be
tackled head on.

 

We are dealing with a pandemic crisis in childhood.  If this was bubonic plague attacking our children, the government and every citizen would be concerned.  But to hear of isolated cases of a mental health disorder in a teenager,  or isolated cutting and additive behaviors,  isolated cases of obesity within one area – no one seems to really be paying that much attention on a national level.   There have been different movements in the United States focusing on different aspects of children’s health and education, but no one movement that encompasses the many branches needed to bring healing to this generation has taken place.  I have not seen any public health campaigns for the things that I think would make the most lasting impressions upon helping our children.

 

What would it look like to really help our children get the best start?  Here some ideas, but there are certainly many more areas so feel free to add yours in the comment box below! Continue reading

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Eight

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: self-restraint. Read on for more

Self-restraint is one of the most important tools we can teach our children, and yet it is often an area in which I see parents struggle themselves.  It is hard to teach that which we do not have or know.  Self-control, self-restraint, is what keeps over-the-top emotional responses in check.  Without self-control, this is so very difficult and I think leads to a house full  of yelling, strife and anger.

Many mothers I meet have, often at the root of anger and yelling, a sense of anxiety, worry or helplessness.  Self-restraint often checks this underlying root problem by providing a bit of a reality check, a bit of detachment for the moment perhaps, and enables us to reject the negativity within.

This may be perhaps one of the hardest things to develop in ourselves, and yet, we must try.  Many articles that one reads about self-control has to do with eating and advises things such as being positive, having a plan in place, having support.  These are things that I advised in the beginning of this series – keeping a journal, having an accountability partner, and looking at self-care.  Do you eat, sleep, exercise?  This is a piece that is the foundation of everything else.

But I think the other piece to this is a more side-ways approach.  Anything that you set your mind to and start and finish from beginning to end helps build self-control and self-restraint.  Many of the mothers I meet and talk to say they are so scattered with everything that needs to happen that they feel they cannot complete anything.  So, practice putting the essential in order and doing the essential completely first.  This works on self-restraint and self-control and will carry over into your parenting.  Other ways we naturally model this is through such disciplines as religious fasting, following an exercise program, following a way to clean our homes during the week, having a rhythm to our days.  All of these steps help build inner self-control.

I think the other piece is to be decisive. Making choices, following through, and being confident will also translate into a parenting that is sure-footed and controlled.  There is such a huge amount of information out there today related to any aspect of parenting, schooling, homeschooling.  An ability to weed through that in some way and make the choices that are right for you and your family in a timely way will also help develop your self-restraint and control.

Lastly, working on what we say and how we say it is so important.  Listening to the other carefully without an agenda, without a judgment is the first step.  To pause, breathe, think and then respond is the last step – if a response is even needed. With children, we often need a calm follow-through in order to help further guide a child’s actions since they often do not work well off of words alone.

 

Think of all the ways in which you build up your self-restraint, and build upon your successes.

 

Blessings and love,
Carrie

31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Twenty-Seven

 

 

Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress.  In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: together. Read on for more

“The Barna Group, a national research group devoted to studying the religious sphere, recently published the results of another long-term study in a book called Unchristian……But the single biggest take-away I  gleaned from reading this book was the important difference between providing youth activities for children, essentially entertaining them and doing things for them, and actually including them in spiritually formative and meaningful ways or doing things with them.”

From “Orthodox Christian Parenting:  Cultivating God’s Creation” by Zoe Press

I am reading this book right now, and this quote really struck me as being indicative of what we have done to the lives of our children in modern society.  It has turned into entertaining our children through activities outside the home. We talk to children as if nothing of import can go on within the home and family, but instead we wait for the big day for the child to move beyond the family by attending school, by being able to do x, y and z.  And yet, in order for children to have a firm footing in not just childhood, but in the teenaged years especially, we need to be be WITH our children and do things WITH our children.  The quote above applied to religious matters, but really also applies to life with children.

If you are having trouble with yelling at your children, then I suggest that you look at TOGETHER.  How are you together with your children and are you present?  When would that happen? What is interfering in that?  Too many outside activities?  What do you do together to build positive memories of time spent together?  How are you passing your values  on to your children through your actions and through time together?

If you are yelling at your children, perhaps you need more time together to solve that challenge,  not less.

I invite you to consider this.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Where to Find Information About Waldorf Homeschooling

 

In the past, many mothers found information about Waldorf Education by attending something at a school, a Steiner playgroup, or attending a curriculum fair at a Waldorf homeschooling group.  It was an in-person experience and it was an experience that perhaps built through a school year or through seasons.  There is something so wonderful about experiencing Waldorf education in person through a group, a workshop, a study group.  It may be at a “school” and yes, school is different than homeschooling children of different grades, but it is not a bad starting point to gleam ideas and understand the atmosphere a great teacher can hold.

 

At some point, gathering information seems to have moved from an in-person experience to an experience of Yahoo groups or forums and then into blogs.  Now it seems the information gathering has moved to mainly Facebook groups.  I am not currently on ANY Waldorf homeschooling or Steiner-related Facebook groups due to the tone of these groups and the lack of information presented in a detailed way.

 

  • If you are truly interested in Waldorf homeschooling and want to learn more, here are some ideas to support and encourage you:
  • Look for programs based from a Waldorf school, a Waldorf farm program or other Waldorf based program where trained teachers could be helpful.
  • You could also look at trainings through Lifeways, Sophia’s Hearth, a Foundation Studies program that has come to your city, or  other training program.
  • You could read Steiner, and look at curriculum and resources for yourself and decide what is right for you and your family after you discern what you are looking for.  In the United States,  you can join the Rudolf Steiner College Library to see even more books, including many that are out of print.   There are also many free e-books available at the Waldorf Library On-Line.  Many, many free ebooks!! Check there before you buy something because you may be surprised that it is there!  Get with other Waldorf homeschooling mothers in your area, and look at each other’s resources.
  • You could contact a Waldorf homeschooling group or even a single Waldorf homeschooling family in your area.  Christopherus Homeschool Resources Inc keeps an international list here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/resources-for-waldorf-homeschooling-and-conscious-parenting/networking-for-groups-and-individuals.html
  • I maintain an impartial presence regarding curriculum. or curriculum providers.  Again, some are more true to Waldorf pedagogy than others so if you are looking for curriculum that is true to Steiner’s work, do your research for yourself.   If I use something and I love it, I will say it in my posts on different grades.    Different curriculum and different resources speaks to different people.  Do your research. If you want this path, then you will find places to ask questions and take the time to study yourself.
  • The free files at Marsha Johnson’s waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com are wonderful and show how a homeschooler could put a Main Lesson together,  but I do not recommend any Yahoo!Groups nor Facebook groups.
  • A curriculum consultant could be helpful, if it is the right person for where you are.  Again though, I  STRONGLY feel more that the tools for this path lie within you and less within outside people.  I absolutely will not comment on curriculum consultants because I feel you can do this!

 

If you really want to do this, like anything in life, you can do it with some work and striving.  I have been homeschool planning on and off since February, and I am a busy person.  You can do this too!

Blessings and love,

Carrie