Have you ever gone outside and thought to yourself: "God is so great"? Just thought, really thought, about how great He is?
From Tulips to carnations, two completely different flowers, you can discover God's handiwork in everything you see, hear, touch, or smell.
A Tulip to us seems a pretty simple flower at first glance. But then look at it closely, the pollen made for just one specific task, pollinating the flower. Every part of the leaves and stem made to collect and make food. The petals perfectly lined up. But even that isn't enough for our heavenly creator! Look at the color, every shade of red or pink or yellow you can think of! The stem is just plain lime green from far away, but close up, now that's a different story. A base of light green, but then there's some brown, dark forest green, and even a light shade of blue/teal. Explaining everything you see would probably take at least an hour!
Then if you try to explore an Iris, it would probably take a very, very long time. It's wonderfully complex in every way!
But then if you take into account every flower and plant that lives on planet earth! Hundreds- of-thousands-of-years of design work for us, and God created everything that lives and doesn't live on earth in a matter of days!
The wonders of God never fail to amaze! Because God also created his most precious possession...Us! Brain, heart, lungs, cells(and millions of other things!!) all working together to keep us alive. Think about it, actually don't, they do it without you even doing anything!
So now what do you think? Will you go outside and answer the beckoning call of "God is so great! Just praise him!"?
Acacia Buschbach, Age 12
Photos taken by Acacia Buschbach.
You know what is great about the Upper Midwest? Nature! And you know what? It's really everywhere, not just here! The greatness of Nature is that is seems to find it's way into every crevice and nook and cranny that it can. It seems like God, through his creation, is saying, "I AM HERE!"
This little weathered crack on I-94, the dry, sun-beaten Playground in the inner city, the church parking lot, the railings across the world - all the little places where water and sun and seed can slip in, God's creative power also slides in and speaks. Through the power of his hand the littlest weed, succulent, moss or flower grows. And it is wonderful. Majestic Beauty.
Have you ever stopped to look at the way moss grows? I don't even know much about it. It's definitely worth an upcoming object lesson for a family Nature Study. But look at it? Do you see this little patch of moss, growing in sunny Bath, UK. Do you wonder just what the little flower-like fingers are sticking up out of the soft green? Do you stop to wonder? Do you stop and think and want to know.
One very sad thing that I have been noticing over the past few years is the decline of children playing outside. We kind of all know it's a problem, right? Research tells us that too much T.V., cell phones, Video games and the like are unhealthy for all of us. But what are we doing about it?
I am very excited to read a new book I've just received in the mail called The Last Child in the Woods. It's apparently filled with research about the health benefits of being in Nature. I believe it will challenge me and encourage me to wonder more. Even more importantly, I want it to push me to let my children wonder more!
In an effort to do something about what research seems to be telling us, I am trying a simple project over the summer. I have invited families from all over the Twin Cities to join my family on a monthly Nature Hike. There are several goals for these hikes.
1. Get outside. Get Fresh Air. Get Exercise.
2. Be in Nature, in a wild place where my children can use all of their senses to experience the beauty of God's creation. I want the children who join us to know and understand their Loving, Heavenly Father who made the tiny Forget-Me-Nots, and the crayfish, and the Chickadee.
3. I want to wonder. I want to teach other Mamas to wonder. I want my kiddos to wonder. Who made this? How did it come to be? What parts does it have? How does it survive? What are these little parts on the side of the insect for?
4. The Habit of careful attention and observation. We live in a S.T.E.M. society. Everyone wants people to study the sciences really rigorous sciences, right?... Well, what better way to make a good scientist then through creating curiosity, wonder and the ability in young children to make scientific observations? It's really great!
5. Fellowship and Community. Another thing really lacking in our modern culture is a sense of community. I believe there are a lot a lonely people in our age. How can we come together to love and listen and enjoy time together? I'd say a nice walk in the countryside will do! Sit by a stream and paint your treasures from your nature hike. Feed your children. Talk about life and family and school and God. (And maybe a snapping turtle too!) That's really life-giving!
So join us! We had a lovely hike at Minnehaha Falls today. We got to know new families and enjoyed the beautiful weather and fellowship. We caught teeny fish and brought home a pet Crawdad! Now we get to observe him from home and see his changing colors as he grows and molts. We still have 2 more hikes left in the summer!
And, Boo-Hoo if you can't. So make sure while you're out searching for the little Pokemon guy (please don't get hit by a car or run someone else over with your skate board), put down your phone long enough to stop, and look at what's around you. Talk to your children about Jesus and how he was with God from the beginning of creation. And how he made the pretty bumblebee and cardinal. Help them to truly see, know, understand, and wonder about the tiny things and the big things. Wonder together about the rocks, the weather, and the stars. Help them and be amazed. And maybe you'll all come out of it loving your God a whole TON more!
We were able to travel to the San Francisco Bay area for 5 weeks in March of this year with Daddy's job. We had some really excellent nature study opportunities while we were there. There is such a vast array of climates and biospheres in CA. We didn't make it to the mountains as originally planned due to snow and a very small rental car, but we were still able to visit forest, ocean, salt marsh/bay life, and dessert like hills around the south bay area. All were very interesting and valuable for school. It's so great to see the beauty and creativity of God's handiwork. We tried to take lots of pictures and do drawings in our nature notebooks as well. We'll cover our Ocean trips for today!
Santa Cruz - We went to Monterey Bay/Santa Cruz our first weekend in CA. It was February and very hot. It was the only time the children got to swim the entire month. And they swam in the ocean. The water was freezing, but the air was warm enough to take the edge off. After they were done with their swim, they were quite chilled. But it was a fun experience all right!
That morning in Santa Cruz we went to a really neat place called the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab - http://www2.ucsc.edu/seymourcenter/ It is closer to the Bay area than the Monterey Bay Aquarium and way cheaper. It is small, but has really good, hands on touch pools with sea creatures that are definitely not at the Mall of America Sea Life Aquarium! Really fun! Worth it for small children too. Because of the price, you don't feel the need to stay all day long.
We also got to go to a Tide pool one weekday. Michael took off work early and we drove about 50 minutes to the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We were able to watch nesting mother seals from a distance and search for sea stars, sea anemones, crabs, hermit crabs and all of the other tidal pool life right under our feet. Read Pagoo, by Holling Clancy Holling for a good taste of Tidal pool life! Visiting a tide pool is an excellent opportunity on so many levels. You get fresh air, nature study and the like, but it also provide you with an entry to so many other areas of study, such as the Moon, gravity, why there are high and low tides, etc. Take the time to learn about these things with your kids before and after a trip to a tide pool! Tide pool pictures for another day. I have to go to bed and I think they are on another SD card. oops! I will share one picture from a trip I took to CA a few years ago to visit my sister in San Diego. Down there we were able to visit a beach where the Seals have their pups as well. We could get a lot closer there and so I have better pictures of the seals. It was quite amazing! I really got to see this and these are WILD!! How Awesome! http://www.lajollafriendsoftheseals.org/
We have had northern leopard frogs hanging around our yard for the past couple summers. Last year we had our backyard pond filled and they lived there. This summer we had to empty it for the safety of our 1 year old son, but they are still around in the bottom of the pond where it fills with rain water and also in the longer grass near the gardens. The girls found one yesterday swimming in our kiddie pool. We caught him and made a home for him in a critter cage we purchased, used, a few weekends ago (just in case we found a critter of course!) We had to go buy some crickets for him at the pet store until we can find a more sustainable way to feed him. I figured out that it will cost us around $80 to buy crickets for him all year. I am not going to do that. I'd rather let him go, than spend that kind of money on a wild-caught pet.
We have to do some research about the types of insects he'll eat and how to catch them. Here's some pictures of the last 2 summers.
We had one of four cocoons hatch out. It was a female. She attracted Males from all over. Some of them died after their long flight as you can see in the photos. The Males will fly up to 7 miles in order to mate with a female whose pheromones are put off from about 10 pm to 4 am. They smell her and they come. We had about 5 come and 3 were found dead around our butterfly net. Two males lived and we placed one in the net to mate with her. She laid eggs and lots of baby caterpillars hatched out about 3 weeks later. See caterpillars below.
This afternoon after church we were getting ready to lay out some hard wheat berries to try and grow wheat grass for juice and smoothies. Apparently it's nutrient rich. So we're trying it. When I went into our mudroom to find a tray I found that four of our Black swallowtail butterflies hatched out, maybe sometime in the night. Our friend from church told us to let them out at night so the birds wouldn't eat them right away. I forgot about that until after we released 3. Oh well. At least we have some more pollinators in our neighborhood now! Last summer we had a Antheraea Polyphemus cocoon and when she hatched out she attracted several males and mated, laid eggs and we had about 100 baby caterpillars from her. So I am thinking that might be a possibility with these butterflies as well. I should have kept them over night in our net. We have 6 more to go so I'll give our entomologist friend a call and find out if they'll mate in captivity. I learned the hard way last summer to keep them fed and cleaned more often because we lost quite a few to disease. This year we were more vigilant and it's paid off. So exciting to see them go through almost a complete life cycle! The Photos of the chrysalis are either right before they hatched out or afterwards, when it's empty. We noticed how it changed color right before they were going to hatch out. Before they were that bright green color(as seen in previous post) now they are more brown and translucent.
I was enjoying our back yard today and noticing the beauty of God's creation. It's amazing to me that there are so many details we miss if we don't stop to look more closely at the little things around us. From the fuzzy seed pods and the powdery, yellow pollen, to the intricate design of each small flower, God is declaring his Glory. Sadly, we are often to busy to bask in His fullness. It's wonderful to participate in nature study and to observe carefully, because when we do that there is so much to learn about how the world works and how each part has a purpose and a special design. Oh, H
This is a clip from our Rocky Mountain National Park vacation. She's taking it all in!
We were able to observe the elk fairly close. What an honor to see such beautiful creatures. Apparently they are overpopulated in the RMNP because their natural predators, Grizzlys and wolves are no longer in the park.
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FAMILY NATURE STUDY