Friday, October 11, 2013

Almost Amish...Chapter 4 - Nature:
Time Spent In God's Creation Reveals the Face of God
Golly! I don't dare look back and see how long it's been since I posted on Almost Amish, but never-the-less, I do want to finish up the "series".
This chapter is so precious to me because on a day-to-day basis, our family is constantly outside in nature, feeding animals, maintaining their dwellings, gardening, riding bikes, nature journaling, going to parks/beaches, etc. Nature is all around us, but yet we're too busy to sit still and admire it sometimes (no soccer practice doesn't count...tee hee). It's a challenge sometimes, but when the effort is taken and the discipline is there to routinely be outside, soaking in God's amazing creation, there's a certain respect, an appreciation that takes place for it. You don't look at a chicken roast the same because you know where it came from and the life that was slaughtered to nourish you. You don't look at cheese the same anymore because you know the time it takes to perfect a cheese recipe and make it.
 I know that living off the land God gives us serves as a daily reminder that everything we have depends on God. If God loves His creation, than so should we. It's one of the first commands in the garden of Eden was to tend and protect the garden (abad and shamar in Hebrew). It's not just a suggestion, it's a COMMAND and the stewardship that we have for God's land (Psalm 24:1) is a way for us to show our love to the Creator.
"The lessons we learn from birthing, grooming, feeding, mucking, and loving another of God's creatures cannot be gained in driver's ed." says Sleeth.
"The initial step for a soul to come to knowledge of God is contemplation of nature." Irenaeus (CA. 120-CA. 202)
"I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the lease plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator." Basil the Great (329-379)
"Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?" St. Augustine (354-430)
"In more modern terms, George Washington Carver captures the wisdom of these church fathers as follows: 'I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.' "
Sleeth continues on reminding us that "Many twenty-first-century biologists and social scientists are warning that our attraction to technology is separating us from nature...gardens grow vegetables and technology turns us into vegetables."
"...electronic media is separating us from nature. We are spending less time in parks, less time camping and hiking, and less time in unstructured outdoor play because videophilia is replacing biophilia."

"Unlike the Amish, who are still connected to the outdoors, the rest of us are forgetting the language of God's creation."

There's something about being outside with your children on a cool morning, laying on a blanket with fresh bread and fruit, talking about the Lord and His greatness. From the tiniest gnat to Molly our cow, my kids are so full of questions and the more ownership we give them, the more knowledge they desire, the more answers they will seek for themselves through books and experiments. Knowledge can be so POWERFUL if we just let children take some ownership for themselves.

No our kids don't know how to roam around a computer yet, and we do that on purpose so that they may first appreciate books and their authors and not to be tempted by technology as a first resort when boredom strikes. We don't own Wii's, video games, I-gadgets, etc.  TV is limited to rainy days, babysitter times, sick days, emergencies or when Mom just needs a 45 minute break.

I've seen studies in foreign countries where children have never seen a computer in their lives and within 30 minutes of having custody of a laptop, they're wizzing around the screen, fully capable of figuring the device out. So, these parents aren't worried. {grin} We want our kids' first reaction to boredom to be, "Hey! Let's go outside and see how many Orb spiders we can catch, look up their Latin name, see what they eat, draw them in our nature journals and show Daddy."
The computers can come later.

I think sometimes it's easy for us as parents to pat ourselves on the back when we've taken Junior to baseball practice or when we've planned a camping trip. While these are great things, if I dare be honest, we need to do more than that! We need to make sure that they are getting hours in the out of doors with NO STRUCTURE...DAILY. Yes, I said it. No structure. No sports. Daily. Just hiking, admiring, discovering, sketching of specimens, catching butterflies, etc. Letting them be children.
We have become so structured as a society, we need to learn to let go of time and just "be" in God's magnificent creation.
I know that this can be so difficult for especially dad's who work to provide. As a family, we've been blessed to have a park near Daddy's work where we can meet for lunch, getting him out of his cold, office walls and just enjoy being together as a family.
One of my biggest prayers is that someday, I could write children's books (the ideas are flying through my brain like hotcakes these days!) where he wouldn't have to work. Our land and home would be paid for and being a bit more (not totally, mind you) off-grid, our monthly bills would be next to nothing. We're just continuing to pray and ask the Lord for HIS will and not our own. As our children age, it has become obvious to me just how important dads are in the molding and shaping of our kids and they can't always be around because they're working to pay for our "needs" or so we call them. We need these dads as spiritual heads of our homes, leading. It's not someone else's job to do it. The main mentor in our kids' lives should be the father. Not the band instructor, the youth pastor or the football coach. We need dads to step up!
Make a goal for yourself and your family. What things can we cut out and replace with unstructured time in God's beautiful creation? Start small and build on it. He's put it here for us to enjoy together as families and we should partake of that together.
Here are some suggestions...
take a walk together
climb trees
ride bikes
run around a meadow or playground
rope swinging
digging for archaeological treasures in the creek bed
picking dandelion bouquets
playing in the leaves
start a fall garden (Floridians, now is the time...ah-hem!)
make little fairy houses in the backyard
construct drip castles in the sand or earth
build snow forts (for those up north)
ice-skating on a nearby pond
flying kites
catching critters and putting them into a terrarium to observe (and then let go)
start a chicken coop
Blessings on your endeavors to get outside and enjoy God's beautiful creation!

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