Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Nature: Creating an Eye to see Him

Leigh's idea of "knowing God and making Him known" resonates with me and I try to carry that thought with me and put it into action each day as I spend time with my kids.  Nothing sings of God's existence and makes Him more tangibly known here on Earth than the creation around us and it's beauty and complexity.  I began doing a Nature Journal with my daughter last year to try to incorporate this wonder and awe of God.  I wanted to begin to train her eye to "look for God" and see Him in everything around her.

Once I set my mind on doing this, it's amazing how much I began to see around me that sings of God.  Most of our "nature study" is done while walking or riding bikes in the morning before school or when some opportunity pops up in the day.  We keep our eyes open and stop if we see a bug on the ground, a worm, a snake, hear an unfamiliar birds call, see a bird we hadn't noticed before or whatever God has for us that morning.  It can be as simple and silly sometimes as noticing a tree that is bent and asking Sarah "why do you think that tree is bent towards the ground?" and us coming up with possible reasons.  Sarah concluded at the end of one conversation about a bent tree that "it must be bowing down to God Mom!" - I think she gets it!  I love that reasoning that she's developed now.  She sees everything in creation as "bowing down to God" which the Scriptures tell us is true...

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:12)

"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord." (Psalm 96:11-13)

"Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away." (Psalm 148:1-6)

"Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds." (Psalm 148:7-10)

"Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4; cf. Psalm 97:6)

"Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

So now we look for God everywhere.  We usually snap a picture of what we find, print it on my computer, cut it out and paste it to her book.  She dictates to me what she wants to say about it and I write it for her.  We like to do this together because it helps us also work on grammar, spelling and writing skills simultaneously and naturally with our Nature Study.  To help you come up with your own Nature Study - here is a look at how some of our adventures above in the example of our journal,  occurred:

The picture of her holding the stoneberries:  We were riding bikes and noticed the pretty red berries of spring along the side of the path.  We stopped, we picked some and then once we returned home we googled them to see what they possibly were.  We matched the pictures to find the right image and then we read about them together.  We washed them and tasted them to see what they tasted like.  We talked about why God made them and who He made them to feed and their purpose.

The picture of the Smoky Mountains:  While staying with a good friend who owns a house on a Mountain top in the Smoky's we got up one morning looked out our window and snapped this picture.  The "smoke" was the topic of discussion and how it occurs and why and how the Mountain chain got it's name.  We talked about the scripture verses in Exodus regarding Moses and how he went up to the top of Mount Sinai and how it was described as above the clouds and how that may have looked similar.

1On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire.The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain[b]trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.[c]

The picture of a slug and it's babies:  One night a care giver for my special needs son was leaving after a big rain and it was probably about 8:30pm.  As she walked outside she saw these giant slugs and came back and told me to get the kids!  (Even the people who work in my home are now doing this and seeing God's creation!) So we went outside with our camera and looked at them, touched them and then came inside and googled information about them and put it in our Journal.  We discussed the purpose of God making slugs and what their "job" in nature was that He created them to do.

The picture of the girls with an ant hill:  While having a friend over to play outside, they noticed an ant hill.  They came running inside to tell me they saw this giant ant hill (now Sarah has even her friends doing this!).  I grabbed my camera and went outside.  We looked at the ant hill and discussed how they thought the ants made it, what might be inside of it and how the ants would respond if anything disturbed it.  I then told them to step back and I gently stepped on the ant hill enough to disturb it so they could see what happened next.  We watched in awe as the warrior ants went to the permitter to defend against whatever was disturbing their hill and then the worker ants began to carry their white eggs to safer locations within the ant hill.  We took pictures and discussed it looking it up inside the house on google to learn more and talked about what job they serve in God's creation.

So as you can see - it can be planned or unplanned as long as you begin thinking about how to make it a lesson in seeing God's creation and learning more about it and Him when any opportunity arises.

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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful activity and it is creating lovely pages.