Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Thoughts on Nature Study

 Have you ever felt the beginning of a desire within your heart kindling; A dream or passion from the Father?
Then humanity sets in, and we set ourselves to the task: educate, equip and prepare.
Yet, ironically, in the midst of the searching, you feel lack and/or disqualified?!
Before long, you're convinced that not only are you lacking, but your failing.
Failing before you even begin!
I've felt this...countless times.

 Nature appreciation / journaling was specifically one of these areas for me.
The Father planted the seed, yet I felt the responsibility to figure out the how.

Vainly, our attempts often easily and even naturally, turn to what this looks like for others...
Then human nature begins to negatively compare our budding interest to another's passions and strength.
Over time, that budding desire withers under the weight of those who "perfectly" lived this as a lifestyle.

So I stopped looking! I went back to Him, the Planter, the One who planted that desire in my heart.
I physically brought this lackluster nature box consisting of a single clam, a few feathers,
 a handful of acorns and a couple of pinecones,
and I surrendered the perfectionist struggle and asked Him,
"How do I do this? You've birthed this desire, You have to nurture it. 
Lead me into the beauty and fulfillment that you want for 
{{our family}}"
 You know what, He did, and He continues to...
and I'm learning along this journey that rest abounds when I bring what I have
and allow Him to cultivate
to transform my meager, my lack, into His beauty.

Initially, the Father first revealed the truth
Truth that my children actually were experiencing and appreciating nature!

The desire I felt, was simply to further cultivate and nurture the experience.
Our attempt at nature journaling began simple and uncomplicated.
 We purchased a few items, and I found that instinctively, my children easily began documenting the beauty surrounding their everyday lives.

Many of our experiences, I'm sure you've experienced as well...

:: identifying constellations beneath a blanket of stars on a promising comet filled night
:: observing and illustrating the super moon phenomena 
:: tasting the sweet nectar of a honeysuckle
:: taking time to notice, document or research animals and insects around our home,
such as ants and bees, the vibrantly colored dragonfly, scurrying squirrels collecting acorns on a fall morning,
the detail of a praying mantis, comparing the difference between a moth and a butterfly
:: the geometric beauty of spiderweb
:: the beauty of morning dew on the grass
:: watching a thunderstorm roll in 
:: pausing life to follow a snail make its path across the sidewalk
:: collecting lightning bugs and listening to crickets on a summer evening
:: the awe electrical heat lightning on a summer's night

The discouragement of winter even naturally provided journaling material, such as:

:: collecting, identifying, and drawing local conifer branches and cones
:: identifying and illustrating which birds remain in our area throughout the winter
:: interrupting a language lesson to actively listen, identify, then jourmal a woodpecker in our backyard
:: pausing on a warm afternoon walk to bask in the sun filled sky, flock of geese overhead
:: identifying the type of bird feathers scattered in our yard

Nature appreciation doesn't need to be elaborate and journaling isn't even a requirement!
Our children's first nature journals consisted of collected leaves, four leaf clovers and bark samples.

Now, when I said that I "stopped looking", hear that I'm not against educating myself.
I'm not against surrounding myself with beautiful inspiration and
 I could instantly name a handful of individuals who inspire me to grow, and dig deep in this area.
But they're not my source. They don't nurture or provide sustenance to feed my soul.

All I need for growth in any of life's areas,
 is to listen to the Father's prompting in my heart, and rest in the knowledge that He is leading my family down the path for our lifestyle.

 Currently our household consists of multiple age ranges, and while my youngers enjoy the notebooking aspect of nature, I've discovered that my teens appreciate nature through photography.
That's the beauty of nature appreciation; there is no right or wrong way! Simply encourage your child where they're at; let them store and display their collections proudly;


You may find that a child's particular interest easily can direct an area of nature study as well,
 which happened in our home recently.
As my teenagers were studying geology, simultaneously, my  younger children became interested in rocks,
even taking their passion so far as to digging for rocks in our own backyard!
We naturally began studying the different types of rocks and minerals,
each child began their own personal collections,
and we even enjoyed a trip to Mammoth Cave, which for us, is a easy day trip.

I wholeheartedly believe that life will present opportunity for you to appreciate nature;
simply walk outside, look and listen.

Trust that the Father who plants the seed, will cultivate and deepen the roots
causing the seedling that He planted to flourish.

"That which ought and can best be taught inside the classroom should there be taught,
and that which can be learned through experience dealing directly with native materials
and real life situations outside the school
should there be learned"
- Julian Smith. Outside the Classroom 1943