Stroll Through An English Garden

English Garden Sanctuaries
By Angela Jelf

Sitting in my small garden on a warm London day, my eyes rested on the colorful blooms that dotted my particular plot—delicate pink buds forming on my climbing rose, cheerful clumps of mauve geranium glowing a gentle hue, and bright spears of iris providing a balance of height and hues.  Far from being perfect my garden blossomed as a work in progress; gratefully, several years of hard toil finally started to pay off.

My thoughts drifted back to the day we moved into our home some nine years earlier.  At that time the garden consisted of a small, terraced lawn flanked by two strips of hard, unyielding earth full of stones.  The garden had neither plant nor flower, but dozens of deep-rooted weeds firmly stood their ground.  Still, it had potential; so, I set to work digging, weeding, and painstakingly removing stones.

You may have heard the saying: “The Englishman’s home is his castle.”  Well, perhaps a truer statement would be: “An Englishman’s garden is his pride and joy!”  England is a land of fields, meadows, forests, and ancient hedgerows.  But a typical English home will have a garden located not at the front but at the rear of the property away from the hubbub of traffic.  Our gardens have distinct boundaries—a fence, hedge, or wall—providing a sense of seclusion and privacy.  Even in the heart of suburban London, a garden can become a peaceful sanctuary and a haven for wildlife.  Grey squirrels frequently visit along with butterflies such as the red admiral and a whole host of garden birds such as blue tits, robins, and goldfinches.  An old English song depicts the type of flowers commonly found in our gardens:

How many gentle flowers grow,
In an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now of some I know,
And those I miss I hope you’ll pardon.
Daffodils, heart’s ease and flox,
Meadowsweet and Lily stalks,
Gentian, lupine, and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden.

There’s one thing I’ve learned about gardening over the years — no pain, no gain.

In other words, you get out of it precisely what you put in.  The more time and effort you put into a garden, the more lovely it will be.  Such unending toil hearkens back to the fall of humans in Genesis 3:17–19 when God told Adam, “‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.’”

As I sat basking in the peace and tranquility, I began to reflect on many other parallels I’ve found over the years between gardening and my walk with the Lord.   I thought about how God, the Master Gardener, for years and years, has been patiently and painstakingly transforming me.  How he’s removed my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh.  Of how he’s constantly digging deep within my heart, getting to the root of the stubborn sins and attitudes that so easily beset me.   “Lord,” I whispered, “Are You speaking to me, here?”

I had asked the Lord to give me a theme for our Ladies’ Ministry Day.  Although the event was scheduled more than a month away, people already started signing up.  With so much to do I felt overwhelmed with the tasks ahead of me.  I needed help, and I needed it fast!

Later that day as I tidied the house, I came across some old Bible study notes I had written entitled: “Cultivating a Relationship With God.”   I glanced down the page to a verse of highlighted Scripture that read, “And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:11, ESV).  This couldn’t be mere coincidence.  All at once I had both my title and subtitle: “Bloom!—Becoming a Well-Watered Garden.”

God’s incredible providence soon followed.  Within days I had two wonderful, godly women on board to help me pull the event together.  Fellow church members and two of the most green-thumbed people I know, the duo agreed to speak about how faith and gardening can so often intertwine.  They also volunteered to help me decorate our church hall.  Gathering together as much gardening paraphernalia we could find, the delightful display included terracotta pots, packets of seeds, colorful blooms, bits of old garden trellis, and even a cheerful scarecrow!

Round tables, spread with crisp tablecloths, were adorned with a coronet of eight individually potted French marigolds that would serve as take-home gifts for each guest.  Into each pot we popped a gardening-themed Scripture reference written on a plant label.  But each of us took home so much more than a potted marigold!  So many valuable truths resulted from our time together.

We considered how, right at the beginning, God placed the man that He had made in a garden.  “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2: 8, 9, ESV).  The Lord God, not Adam, planted this garden.  How stunning it must have been compared to the toil I experienced in my own garden!

We marveled at the fact that God not only gave us trees that were designed to feed and nourish us but also those that were pleasant to the sight.  Scientists have long thought that green is the most restful color to the human eye, and our Creator definitely blessed us with an abundance of green worldwide.  We also felt enormously moved as we considered that there in the midst of the very first garden stood the center point of God’s eternal plan—our redemption foretold in the tree of life.

In fact, the very first psalm talks about God’s provision to those who follow His ways.  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1–3, ESV).  These verses talk about delighting in the law of the Lord.  Interestingly, Eden means delight.

God’s intention for every one of us who has been wonderfully redeemed by the blood of Jesus is to flourish, grow, mature, and bloom!  But nothing can bloom without proper nourishment and water.  So, we dig deep into His Word, delight in His ways, and abide in Christ—the True Vine.  “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing’” (John 15:1–5, ESV).

Some interesting visual aids demonstrated that a set of supports often used in garden nurseries aids plants that are prone to drooping.  Linked together to form a circle, the supports illustrate our need to be connected with our brothers and sisters in Christ to help each other stand tall as we grow in our spiritual walk.  A set of pruning shears reminded us that those who do not bear fruit will be trimmed and that the pruning shears belong in the hands of the Father, not ours.

God blessed our garden-themed gathering from start to finish.  But it turned out He had another blessing in mind for us.  A few weeks later the team of helpers took my four-year-old daughter and me on a wonderful road trip to the gardens of Sissinghurst, an important National Trust Site nestled in the heart of the beautiful Kent countryside southeast of London.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting end to our adventure when we basked in the grandeur of the garden and reflected on all that God had done.   One of the most memorable moments for me was finally reaching the top of the castle tower that looks over the surrounding gardens and the fields.  We all stood there for a moment drinking in the glory of God’s amazing handiwork.  But it was my daughter who rightly captured the unspoken gratefulness that was bubbling up within each of us.  As we stood there taking in the stunning view, she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, Mummy.  My heart is full of joy!”  Mine was overflowing.


Angela Jelf writes from London, England, where she explores the wonders of God’s verdure while studying His Word in order to share the blessings with others.  This story is from the Summer 2019 Edition of Creation Illustrated.

5 Life Lessons from 2020 of Biblical Proportion

As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20,” which infers that looking back adds clarity.  Well, 2020 is behind us now, and through the fog of Covid19 challenges we can find glimpses of clear and useful lessons that can help all of us better cope in the future.  Here at Creation Illustrated Ministries, we have found five of them to keep in your back pocket as reminders that “past is prologue” which can have a positive affect on everyone—even eternally.

1) Heroism resides in all of us.  While hospital staff, ambulance drivers, grocery workers, and utility providers seem to always be there for us, we now have a new appreciation for their selfless service to humanity.  By definition: “Heroism consists of putting others first, even at your own peril.”  The noun heroism comes from the Greek hērōs meaning someone who shows great courage.  Although we live in a society where superiority, attainment, and power often reign supreme measures of individual worth, the biblical concept to esteem others higher than yourself shines through as a vital character trait that uplifts everyone during times of hardship.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phillipians 2:3, 4, NIV).

Even in nature we witness acts of benevolence.  For example, the often vicious badger will share its den with other creatures such as coyotes that serve to protect the badger, as told in the Winter 2021 edition of Creation Illustrated magazine.  Countless symbiotic  relationships exist by Divine design, not the least of which include the bee, the flower, and the fruit upon which we depend for our very existence.

So our very being needs to be ready to respond with humble acts of heroism rather than remaining in constant isolation while assuming this is someone else’s job.

2) Charitable giving is inescapable.  The needy and homeless among us have increased in numbers exponentially with the loss of millions of jobs.  We often look to government assistance to care for the poor and less fortunate in times of economic decline, but in reality, we are the government.  We determine how resources are produced and distributed.  We typically pay various tariffs that get re-allocated in ways that may or may not be effective or logical.  So to ensure useful assistance to those in need, we each can look to our abundance and find a way to share something, anything.  The recipient obviously benefits from a hand lifting them up out of despair, but the giver also benefits from the joy of selfless compassion toward fellow humans.

The biblical counsel, “Its more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35), and “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8) guides us away from worldly “survival of the fittest” tendencies and toward connecting with others through heartfelt benevolence.  Our ministry has experienced an amazing influx of generosity and contributions in 2020 that encourage us to boost our efforts to bring the healing power of nature and Creation to hospitals, prisons, and schools.  Our gratitude cannot be put into words, so we choose to respond by furthering our global outreach to hurting souls.

3) Death is more than a number.  All of the Covid19 graphs, tallies, and projections of the dead and dying pour cold calculations over heart-wrenching loss of life and torn family fabrics that cannot be fully mended.  Such statistical devaluation of humans harkens back to the 1960s when the evening newscasts flashed a “scoreboard” on TV screens showing the cumulative number of American and Vietcong deaths as if this was a valid measure of victory.  Our ministry is dedicated to revealing the wonders of living creatures and verdure to help demonstrate that death was never a part of God’s original Creation.  Yet we need to recognize that coping with loss and grief also calls upon our symbiotic “codependency” that comforts one another in times of loss.

The biblical assurance, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) is not a nebulous notion that this will happen automatically.  It is part of a series of promises that call each of us to participate in comforting those who suddenly need a huge void filled in their lives—much more than a card in the mail or a casserole on the doorstep.  Empathy means experiencing someone else’s feelings.  It requires an emotional component of personally identifying with the other person.  Sympathy, on the other hand, means understanding someone else’s suffering in a more cognitive way that keeps a certain distance.

Learning from 2020 how to reduce the vast numbers of losses to individual pain helps us know how to respond in a way that we would want others to respond to us.

4) Social interaction is not optional.  Being told to “social distance” during the Covid era places a painful misnomer on how we should relate to one another.  Preferably, the term should have been “physical distance” which is much more descriptive and to the point.  Social distancing void of personal interactions has plummeted countless souls into isolation, depression, and disorientation.  As social creatures, people have found ways to connect through online portals and cell phone apps that have allowed families, friends, and coworkers to interact.  Even choirs, bands, conventions, and churches have found ways to gather via technology.

Proverbs 13:20 advises: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” so we need to be careful about who and how we associate with others.  But we are also counseled to “love our enemies” and to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Such admonitions challenge us to reach beyond our comfort zones to find common ground with others in an era of disagreement, disruption, and disinformation.  The enemy is seeking to isolate us and divide us from one another, whereas God designed us to interact.  Our ministry provides material that can be enjoyed by entire families or reading groups to build connections that might not otherwise exist.

5) Getaways are essential.  While we cannot fully comprehend the scope and number of lives impacted by Covid restrictions, we empathize with those in the travel industry suffering from the closure of hotels, restaurants, resorts, and transportation options.  Each of us can do whatever possible to help these businesses survive while trying to improvise and replace those minor or major outings that friends, families, and coworkers crave.

Our ministry seeks to encourage people to get outdoors and away from our protective bubbles.  Finding common joys in nature is a profound way to connect on common ground.  But even from the safety of your living room sofa we can take you places you’ve never been before.  In fact the current Winter 2021 edition of Creation Illustrated takes you to the grasslands of northeast Colorado for birdwatching, two places in Africa, and even to China.  Beyond that we invite you to explore with us the outer reaches of the stellar universe to listen to the songs of the stars!  If you clamor for a getaway in these restricting times, let us help you fill this void with not just interesting adventures but with mental and spiritual enrichment.

While we cannot prophesy about what exactly will happen in 2021, we need not be a prophet to know that we are one year closer to Christ’s return when we are called forth to embrace a getaway that is out of this world!

Discover Natural Stress Relief by Viewing Nature

Are you one of more than 40 million Americans who suffer from stress, depression, or anxiety? If so, spending time outside may do your mind (and body) some good.

Spending time in nature can provide natural stress relief. It’s also been proven to improve your mood, boost feelings of happiness, and help your overall well-being. There are many different ways to enjoy God’s Creation.

Consider King David’s reflection upon God’s Creation…

“All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.”—Psalm 66:4

“Mountains and all hills;
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and flying fowl;
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;”—Psalm 148:9-10, 13

…But when it comes down to it, they are all the same. The underlying element to all of these therapies is being outside in nature.

Humans were designed to thrive in the great outdoors. Your body benefits both physically and emotionally from immersing yourself in Creation.

In fact, in 2010, a group of researchers from the University of Rochester conducted a study about the reaction people have to nature. They had students take two 15-minute walks—one in an empty hallway and another down a wooded path in nature.[1]

Can you guess which students reported feeling less sluggish?

That’s right—the participants who strolled down nature’s path.

Our world is loud and full of distractions. This makes it easy to get lost in the shuffle of achievement and materialism that plagues this earth. Nature allows us the time and space that is needed to block out the noise and be intentional about prioritizing our life.

However, keep this in mind…

Nature is a tool that God has given us as a way to see His mighty works. It’s also a good reminder of how much God cares for us and His desire for us not to worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”—Matthew 6:25, 26-27

Natural Stress Relief

Although stress is a part of everyday life, it doesn’t need to take over. By taking a little bit of time out of each day to focus on your mental health, you can reduce your chances of becoming ill from chronic stress. It is not coincidental that the Bible tells us to take an entire day for rest. Our bodies actually need downtime.

Physical Benefits of Stress Relief

1. Time out reduces stress.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports in a CDC publication that stress levels at work are higher than ever. Reports show that “health care costs are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.” Stress wreaks havoc on our physical and emotional health.

2. Time out gives you a chance to move.
Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with many health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. On the contrary, exercise is hands down the best thing we can do for our physical and mental health.

Emotional Benefits of Stress Relief

1. You’re actually more productive when you take time out from work.
Data from the OECD shows that working more hours means less productivity. The most productive countries are Germany and France—each mandating more than 30 days of vacation. Downtime is actually proven to be beneficial in creativity and production.[2]

2. Rest days improve short-term memory.
Memory loss can be attributed to much more than old age. It could be that your brain is overloaded with to-dos. Taking a moment of quiet rest in an open space can lead to more organized thoughts and better memory retention.

Let’s be honest—we all feel better when we are relaxed. The key to relaxation is being able to actually tune out what needs to be done and allowing yourself space to just breathe. When you care for your physical, mental, and emotional health, you are more likely to be successful in your professional and personal pursuits.

It has been proven time and time again that spending time in nature can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being. There is a lot of research to back this claim. Scientists have discovered that the terpenes found in nature play a key role in the therapeutic properties of a walk through the forest.

Another 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that participants who walked in a forest had lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) afterward than those who strolled through a city environment.[3]

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center studied the cognitive effects of air pollution (the word cognitive refers to brain processes such as thinking, reasoning, and remembering). They found that exposure to air pollution over time can result in higher rates of mental decline. This was especially true among older women.[4]

Spend Time in Nature

The good news is that you don’t need to move to the mountains to benefit from a daily dose of nature. Many studies examine the natural stress relief effects of nature after a mere 15- or 30-minute exposure. The positive effects, even after a short time, can still be seen.

If you live in a city, try not to get all of your exercise inside of a gym. Look for a local park where you can go on a walk or jog, take a bike ride, or find a body of water and dive in… if you know how to swim.

Although exercise has a positive effect on stress, you don’t have to be working up a sweat to enjoy the therapeutic effects of nature.

Take some time to really appreciate the Creation all around you. Breathe in the fresh air, admire the beautiful flowers, and listen to the birds sing. Try to let all of your worries drift away as you simply watch and listen.

Be Still and Listen

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”’—Psalm 46:10

Busyness and stress, like so many things in life, do not come with one easy solution. However, within Creation, we can see and hear the many promises from God come to life. Nature can help restore the voice of the Lord in our soul. With practice, His voice can become louder than all the struggles we are battling, and we can rediscover what it means to “be still.”

Want more information on healthful living, education, and God’s Creation? Check out our free resources here!

Fundraising Opportunities for Schools, Churches, and Clubs

Ask anyone involved in a club, church, or nonprofit association and they will tell you that fundraising is among the most difficult of tasks. It’s not that finding people with a heart for giving is hard, but finding something that is of value to the people who are giving has become somewhat overlooked.

Fundraising is not just a means of raising money but also a way to promote the message and goals of your program or charity. Getting people to stand behind your cause gets them excited to be involved.

For many people, the best and easiest way to be involved is to donate. Just as the apostle Paul mentioned in his letter to the Corinthians, giving should be a matter of generosity and excitement, not done out of obligation.

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”—2 Corinthians 9:6-7

What Is the Key to Raising Money for Your Program?

They key is to offer something that is of more value and longevity than a cookie or cupcake. Finding products that are relevant to your organization can be instrumental in bolstering the funds you raise.

Here are a few practical fundraising ideas that can be tailored to your organization.

  • Hold a ticketed dinner event: In addition to giving families a night off from cooking and cleaning, you can also couple these dinners with entertainment or speakers that support your cause. Another way to upsell is to hold a silent auction or 50/50 raffle at your dinner event.
  • Hold a date night with dinner and an activity such as co-painting a canvas: This is an event that is fun and different. YouTube has plenty of canvas-painting tutorials to choose from if you don’t have anyone who feels comfortable teaching the craft. This also creates the opportunity to get some of the youth involved (assuming there are some in your program). Offer to have childcare available for the event as a “piggyback” fundraiser.
  • Hold a workathon: This works much like a walkathon. The “workers” get pledges from family members, friends, and neighbors based on how many hours they work. You can have nominations for jobs that need to be completed and pick a work day. This is a great way to provide a service and raise money simultaneously.
  • Team up with local businesses: Many local shops and restaurants are willing to donate a portion of their sales on a particular day to a good cause. These types of fundraisers are great because they require very little planning and work.
  • Offer a subscription to a relevant magazine: Many places will sell their magazines in bulk. You could also team up with the magazine to offer quarterly subscriptions, then the magazine will give your program a portion of the profits.​

Be creative and customize the fundraiser to your specific program. Many of these ideas could be an annual or biannual event if they are well planned and executed, which leads to a more consistent income.

Fundraising Opportunities | Creating Awareness

Fundraising is about so much more than raising money for your program or cause. Generating awareness is equally important for gathering support. Getting others passionate about your cause will hopefully lead them to raise more awareness and funds for your program. Awareness and financial support can then grow exponentially.

Support can wear many different hats. It’s important to recognize and nurture each one rather than just focus on financial support.

Prayer support- When someone is unable to help in other ways, asking them to pray for your program allows them the opportunity to get emotionally involved.

Volunteer support- Time involvement is every bit as valuable as money when it comes to growing a program. When people spend time learning and helping, they become invested. This kind of commitment is the best way to keep the support growing.

Emotional support- This is usually offered within a core group of the program. Making sure that everyone is getting enough to do without being overloaded will help balance emotional support within. Humility goes a long way when working in a group. Spend time investing in one another as well as in the cause or program that brought you together.

Financial support- Finances are always helpful when it comes to supporting any cause. In order to get someone invested financially, you need to get them to invest their heart emotionally. This will help lead to long-term financial investments rather than one-time donations.

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.”—Deuteronomy 16:17

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to donating time or money. Everyone is gifted uniquely and called to share their gifts with others to further God’s work.


Jesus reminds us that where we spend our time, money, and resources is a reflection of the heart. Time is a gift from God that we must manage just as we do finances.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matthew 6:21

When we keep our focus on God and His purpose, we are recognizing His authority over our lives. He is ultimately the final word on fundraising for our cause or program. This truth allows us to walk in the freedom of knowing that as long as we stay focused on Him, He will do the rest.

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”—1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The Benefits of Including Nature in Homeschool Curriculum

The chance to encourage your child’s love of nature is among one of the many perks to homeschooling. The outdoors hold countless lessons for kids of all ages, and, because of God’s creativity, your little ones can find inspiration, information, and joy from this teaching method.

It’s no surprise that God’s Creation is the perfect classroom for nearly all subjects. Let’s look at some interesting ways you can incorporate nature into your existing homeschool curriculum.

Introducing Nature with a Biblical Worldview

It’s incredible how many learning opportunities nature can create for us. It’s also a practical way to begin exploring God’s character. When God created the world, He gave us a perfect picture of who He is.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” —Romans 1:20

Just as Christian homeschooling families value a biblical worldview, we should also value Creation and all that it can teach us about God and His character. We can utilize Creation in conjunction with the Word to teach our children life skills, as well as who God is and how to grow in a relationship with Him.

3 Ways God Reveals Himself through Nature

1. God takes care of His Creation.

God is the master artist, architect, engineer, physician, and teacher. Though we rely on many man-made luxuries, God’s Word promises that He will provide everything we need.

“‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’”—Matthew 6:25-26

2. God delights in beauty.

God is beautiful. In fact, He is so glorious that, as humans, we can’t even gaze upon His face directly. There is beauty all around us within God’s created world, and His powerful design shines through His Creation. His goodness and character are revealed in everything we see.

“‘But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?’”—Job 12:7-10

3. God’s timing is perfect.

Timing is everything. To see the change of seasons in nature is to see God’s perfect timing.

Our lives are intricately woven into 60-minute hours, 24-hour days, and 365-day years. Each day beginning with the rising of the sun. Each night consisting of a phase of the moon. These perfectly planned cycles remind us of God’s precise timing in and of all things.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11

By exploring nature, we are exploring the full majesty of God and His ability to provide for our physical needs. The more we explore and understand God, the more we can trust Him in the future.

Practical Ways to Study Nature

First and foremost, go outside and let nature take its course—literally! You have the ability to utilize anything and everything you see. Keeping daily journals is a fun and exciting way to keep track of what you are learning from one day to the next.

Pick any subject: science, math, or writing. All of them can be combined when it comes to learning in nature. You can start by choosing a Psalm, poem, or piece of art to give you inspiration for the week.

For the subject of math, count the number of petals on a flower, then multiply that by a certain number of flowers. Count how many seconds it takes a leaf to float down a 10-foot section of a stream. Then calculate how long it would take to travel a mile downstream (5,280 feet in a mile, divided by 10 feet, times the number of seconds it took to travel 10 feet, divided by 60 seconds in a minute = the number of minutes it would take to travel a mile).

Think about when you were a child and learned how a caterpillar turns into a colorful butterfly. The next time you saw the furry critter crawling on a branch, didn’t you think about it differently?

This is what nature does—provides endless possibilities for learning.

Teach a Biblical Worldview through Nature

At the end of each subject, you can easily direct your children back to God by asking simple questions such as the following:

  • Did God reveal anything specific about His character to you through this experience?
  • If so, what elements were revealed? (e.g., law, judgment, provision)
  • What did you learn with your head?
  • What did you learn with your heart?

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.”—Psalms 19:1-3

Personalizing Nature Study

For many homeschool moms, the goal is to be able to nurture a child’s unique, God-given personality while still learning and growing academically. Nature seems to fit perfectly into a child’s learning experience, as it offers a variety of ways to interact and discover the world around them.

And one way that children best absorb information is by exploring nature in the most natural sense.

Individual Expression

Creation offers plenty of room for creative expression. Perhaps your child’s journal will be full of artwork, while others may have pages of written descriptions of what they’ve seen. The goal is to allow their individuality to blossom.

Getting Their Hands Dirty

Let kids get their hands dirty. Kids become much more engaged in learning when they have a personal stake in it. If space allows, plant a garden or even a few potted plants that they can grow from seed to table. The lessons learned from this experience will far outweigh anything they learn in a textbook.

It’s important to remind our kids that our unique qualities are special and intentional. We can praise God that He has designed each and every person with a purpose according to His will.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”—Psalms 139:13-14

Seasonal Nature Study

Although many of us live in places that have different seasons, it is still possible for us to bring Creation inside when needed. Whether due to allergies or cold weather, there will be times when going outside isn’t an option.

When this is the case, bring nature indoors. You can bring God’s created world inside by growing houseplants, crafting a homemade terrarium, examining an ant farm or aquarium, and even studying the family pet.

When we take the time to appreciate Creation, we are also taking a moment to acknowledge God. Remember, God reveals Himself through nature, creating a theological reason to study it.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”—Colossians 1:16

The Lost Art of Slow Reading & Creation Illustrated

The statistics are alarming!  Many people are checking their phones between 300 – 800 times a day!

Now that over 77% of Americans own smartphones, how it this impacting our lives?  The sad thing is that these “smartphones” are not being used very smartly!  Our smartphones have taken our attention. Behavioral science, sociological science is taking not how this small powerful device is affecting us. They are holding it and supplying only sort snippets of sound bites, and micro flips of information.  How much information? There are 2 billion transistors in every smartphone! We have access to so much information now that we are information overloaded! Our senses are getting desensitized.

These little cleaver hand held devices are controlling our lives instead of us controlling them.  Our attentions spans have shrunk to where we have difficulty paying attention to anything that is over just a few minutes in length.

When does slow reading happen in today’s fast passed smartphone world?  As publishers of Creation Illustrated magazine our subscription count is a reflection of this battle? People are just not reading or have the time to read.

The questions need to be asked. Is it important to expose ourselves to quality slow reading material?  How does a family and individual learn to smartly use media in balance and create time to slow read every day?  Do you think this is important? Are you convicted to make improvements in your schedule and the way you live to slow read more?

If you flip through the majority of today’s magazines you will find an average of 50:50 or 60:40 ad ration.  This past fall Creation Illustrated decided to move to 0% outside ads in it’s printed hard copy editions.  What we have increase is the scripture ratio.  On average there are over 75 scripture referenced in each edition of CI.

Taste and See that the Lord and His wonderful Creation is GOOD!

Faith-based Education Builds Christian Character in Youth

Providing strong, faith-building educational programs that also stress the development of Christian character can have a powerful and lasting impact on today’s youth. Character traits that are rooted in biblical principles prove vital to a well-balanced mind and body as they develop during the early years.

With Christ as our model, we can learn from His method of teaching—using parables that focus on eternal truths found in His creation. These can be discovered throughout the natural world and taught or “illustrated” in a way that is retained for life.

Scripture says, “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: . . . I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34, 35).

Here we see the power of how Jesus taught the multitudes who had no books, schools, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. He taught the young and old alike through the natural handiwork of His creation that surrounded them in their daily lives. Jesus used nature and the everyday toil of life to connect the truths of heaven with the words of Scripture. He led people from the natural to the spiritual realm step by step, illustration by illustration.

Christ’s parables provide a link in the chain of truth that unites earthly humans with their heavenly Creator.

Christ was the ultimate teacher, demonstrating the Scriptural truth to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Such principles in character building are priceless and everlasting.

The Creator himself—now incarnate as man and savior to a world lost in sin—spoke to all who would listen many powerful and life-sustaining object lessons about the things He had created and made for our benefit. Through all Creation, Jesus sought to touch hearts and minds to bring about conversion. Even though sin has marred much of Creation, it still holds powerful truths that, rightly understood and illustrated, reveal a Creator who can still create in each of us a new heart.

As teachers of our youth, it is this “higher education” concept that we wish to instill in their eager minds.

Abstract theories were not utilized by Christ.

Instead, He sought essential practical lessons found in nature that would develop a self-sacrificing character and increase human capacity for knowing God so that mortals can reflect the love of heaven to others.

Only through creation are we better acquainted with our Creator, and good Christian character development is the only thing that is lifelong and can be taken into eternity. The book of nature holds numerous lessons of the highest value that, when connected with Scripture, can be used to teach deep character-building truths.

We can only imagine seeing Jesus pluck the beautiful lily on a hillside and place it gently in the hands of the youth; and as they looked into His glowing loving face, listened to Him teach them to consider the lilies of the field, how they grow in their simplicity of natural beauty, not toiling or spinning, and yet not even King Solomon in all his glory and riches was not arrayed like one of these blossoms (paraphrased from Matthew 6:29).

Thus our Creator—Jesus himself—interpreted the message He designed in the lilies of the field. His words then became associated with the lily every time they were viewed; thus, the lesson became eternal.

It is the high calling of parents and teachers everywhere to follow Christ’s example of “higher education.” But resources to follow His example can be scarce…

One option that has been around for more than 25 years is Creation Illustrated magazine, which seeks to “illustrate” a wide variety of parables that teach eternal truths and character-building lessons that the youth will not depart from when they grow older.

>>>Want to find out more? Click HERE for additional FREE resources now!<<<

*This article is inspired by “Teaching in Parables,” from the book Christ’s Object Lessons.

Why a Biblical Worldview in Educating Our Youth Matters in Today’s Society

Today’s society stands in stark contrast to the original, selfless model that was created in the biblical ideal of Genesis 1 and 2. Now we have a “survival of the fittest” society that rests on a self-centered pretext. Each individual is in competition to become “superior,” often at the expense of others.

The human race was created to work with creation—both flora and fauna—to benefit all in a mutual, synergistic model of cooperation and growth. As designed by their Creator, humans would replenish the earth, subdue it, have dominion over it, and dress and keep it. Men and women would become a unit working in a mutually loving and supportive Eden home.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’”—Genesis 1:28

“And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”—Genesis 2:15

The Fall of the human race upended this wholesome, originally designed world based on love and mutual respect and established a new worldview of selfishness and self-preservation. At the Fall, the woman blamed the serpent, the man blamed the woman, the serpent blamed God by claiming He was wrong—that we could become as gods and not die.

But the goals of a “biblical worldview education” are to help lead and train youth to be restored into the image of God as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ. For it was at Creation when God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

Man was created to be one with His Creator.  

Benefits of a Biblical Worldview

This type of educational structure will help foster a balanced mind so each youth can reach his or her full potential in spiritual, physical, mental, social, emotional, and scholastic development. Thus, a whole, well-rounded, well-grounded youth can be prepared to face the challenges of this hectic world.

Take, for example, a basic life lesson of honesty. In the biblical worldview, students learn the value of honesty as part of God’s “self-sacrificing” design, which demonstrates there are consequences to dishonesty and benefits to being honest.

In a humanistic worldview, the “survival of the fittest” mentality promotes personal advancement at any cost—including being dishonest. Instead of self-promotion, the biblical worldview says, “Let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). This self-sacrificing view teaches “Christ esteem”—that each individual is of eternal worth—rather than “self-esteem” that looks to self, which is never good enough.

A vital element of educating within a biblical worldview framework is the question of authority. In a biblical worldview, God and His Word are the authority, which establishes a foundation from which to work that does not change.

In a non-biblical worldview, humans become the authority, which is very fluid and can change at any time. This can become very confusing, unsettling, and irrational to students.

To be clear, starting from a firm foundation of biblical truth does not preclude the use of scientific methods, historical recall, mathematical logic, or philosophical evaluation.

Starting from a biblical foundation allows educators to expound on all of these areas.

This helps students feel secure in their understanding and views that can be articulated with confidence and evidence.

Educating from a “biblical creationist” perspective is the method that Christ used to teach the masses eternal truths. He used the things He made to teach in parables.

“And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples”—Matthew 4:33, 34

Using nature and teaching in parables from a biblical worldview is still a powerful way to reach students, and Creation Illustrated magazine is one resource that has been dedicated to this teaching method for more than 25 years. A wealth of resources in more than 100 timeless back issues unveils timeless truths from a biblical worldview.

>>>Want to find out more? Click HERE for additional FREE resources now!<<<

The Benefits of Reading a Magazine Daily

How often are you reading a magazine? If it’s only when you are sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, then you could be missing out on a critical tool that helps with mental focus, de-stresses the mind, and even regulates emotions.

Have you ever wondered how daily reading from different formats has a positive effect on your brain function? Well, wonder no more…

Across the board, studies show that all types of reading stimulate your brain activity. The benefits of an active brain are better memory retention, less stress, and better focus, just to name a few.

Why Read from Magazines?

Let’s look at what unique benefits reading a magazine brings to the table…

Simply put, magazines bring a different type of information to readers compared to books or newspapers. There are hundreds of thousands of magazines that circulate throughout the world today, most of which focus on a specific topic or subject matter.

1. Topic-specific magazines have the ability to inform us on many facets of the same subject all in one place. This enables the reader to get a broad understanding of a subject, without relying on a textbook.

2. Magazine articles are usually a bit longer and allow for more information than a traditional newspaper article. They are also much shorter than books, which makes reading them very manageable in much less time. This gives the reader a plethora of information without needing hours to read and gain useful information.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words. Magazines are usually filled with colorful pictures and graphics. This allows readers to see what they are learning about. It also gives the writer the ability to thoroughly cover a topic in fewer words, as they are often accompanied by pictures and graphics that aid in telling the story.

4. When students can visualize the setting of the subject that they are learning about, they are able to become engaged in the story. Emotional investment is the space where we can truly grow in appreciation for the truth and wisdom being presented.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”—Proverbs 22:6

Why Should You Be Reading a Magazine Daily

Reading, especially reading a magazine, has more benefits the more you do it. Just as we can’t go to the gym one time and expect to be classified as healthy, we cannot read occasionally and expect to get the benefits that come from daily reading.

Let’s take a look at what reading one short article a day can do for your overall health and well-being.

  • Mental stimulation: The brain is a vital organ that needs regular stimulation to keep it strong and healthy.

  • Overall knowledge base: Obviously if you are reading daily you are adding to your knowledge base regularly. Everything you read fills your mind with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

  • Enhanced vocabulary: Just as you have more knowledge, you have a broader vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken will help you in nearly any situation. Knowing that you can speak to others with confidence can also be an enormous boost of mutual respect.

  • Memory improvement: Reading, especially in short bursts about a subject, requires memory. Every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as mood stabilization.

  • Stress reduction: An engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

  • Ability to focus: In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in countless different directions at once as we multitask through every day. While this is not always bad, when you read from a magazine, all of your attention is focused on the story. The rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every detail you’re absorbing.

  • Better writing skills: Exposure to a variety of published, well-written works has a noted effect on one’s own writing. In observing the writing styles of others, your own work will take on a more polished style.

Add to all these the benefit of the next generation learning about the created world in a fun and creative way. A fresh perspective grounded in biblical truth will make a solid foundation for building knowledge and character in our youth.

“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.”—Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Reading a Magazine Daily Can Bring the Fun Back into Learning

Magazine articles can break up the drudgery of learning from textbooks alone. Magazines are usually written quarterly or monthly and provide relevant and up-to-date information on any number of subjects.

Education doesn’t need to feel like a chore. With the right tools, you are able to enjoy learning about science and Creation. And unit studies through Creation Illustrated help you accomplish the goal of teaching your children as Deuteronomy instructs.

>>>Want to find out more? Click HERE for additional FREE resources now!<<<

Benefits of Homeschooling | Why It’s Growing in Popularity

t’s true that every homeschooling parent has their reasons for providing an education for their child (or children) in the comforts of their own 4 walls. Reasons may include anything from available educational options to personal beliefs. Though the benefits of homeschooling may be as diverse as the subjects you can study, one thing is for sure—it is growing in popularity.

What the Research Says About Homeschooling

According to the National Home Education Research Institute…

“Homeschooling – that is, parent-led home-based education; home education – is an age-old traditional educational practice that a decade ago appeared to be cutting-edge and ‘alternative’ but is now bordering on ‘mainstream’ in the United States. It may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States.”

Academic Performance
  • “The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.”
  • “Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.”
  • “Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.”
Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development
  • “The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”
  • “Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.”

What Does This Mean for the Parent Who Is Considering Homeschooling Their Children?

If you already homeschool your children, these research findings are likely no surprise to you. You’ve seen them play out in your own home.

But if it’s an option you’ve recently begun researching, homeschooling can open up a book of endless questions.

However, aren’t most of those questions centered around concerns, fears, and doubts? Do you find yourself asking…

  • What if I’m not qualified to teach my child?
  • What if they miss out on opportunities to make friends?
  • Does “homeschooling” mean “home all day”?
  • What types of homeschool curriculum are out there that enable us to explore the outdoors?

The decision to homeschool your child is an important one and should not be taken lightly. But if the aforementioned concerns run through your mind, you can rest assured that they have comforting answers.

Addressing Your Concerns

As mentioned in the above research findings, a parent doesn’t need to be a certified teacher for their child to be academically successful. What makes the difference? A parent who is deeply concerned about their child’s academic success and one who wants the safest, most nurturing educational environment possible.

As far as friends, due to the popularity of homeschooling, coalitions and organizations are being formed across the nation. These groups allow for families to get together, share resources, take part in ministry opportunities, and participate in community projects all while getting a hands-on education.

From these out-of-the-home learning opportunities, it’s clear how endless the options are! Getting outside and getting into nature allows kids to learn by getting all of their senses involved.

However, the last concern regarding homeschool curriculum is understandable. It builds the foundation for everything. It is what gets the child excited to learn, piques curiosity, and promotes healthy habits that will follow them on to their next step in education and even into the workplace.

Therefore, having a solid curriculum is essential. One that is fun, is engaging, promotes a faith-based perspective to the world, and gives a deeper appreciation for the subject.

Want an exceptional homeschool curriculum that goes beyond the basics? Then you’ll want one that ties together…

  • Geography
  • Science
  • Math
  • Vocabulary and spelling
  • Activities, games, and educational videos
  • Art

For those parents who are concerned about how to get started, maybe this can help… When we want to take on a new project, endeavor, or adventure, the best place to start is the beginning—the beginning of the Bible. And in the beginning was creation!

Hands down, those looking for a way to bring their faith into the educational setting need a guide book. And our unit studies just happen to be inspired by the Bible. We know that you have concerns about how to take biblical principles and make them applicable to an educational setting, while at the same time building godly character within your children.

With your needs, and the Bible as our guide, we’ve been able to produce what has become known as “The Christian answer to National Geographic!”

The science is proving the benefit of homeschooling. Our inspiration was birthed out of a love for God’s creation and education. We wanted parents, schools, and ministries with the same desires to have access to materials that aligned with their perspectives. Now, moms and dads are developing closer relationships with their children, raising kids who are well adjusted and ready to enter adulthood with the values and beliefs that were established years before by their parents.

Who understands your child’s educational needs better than you? Whether you are a veteran or novice, you understand what motivates your child, and you want to establish further what God has planned for their life. You’ve got the heart, and we’ve got the tools.

Consider the next adventure you want to take with your child! Is it strolling through the woods and gazing at the beauty of a pine tree? Or perhaps it’s viewing snow-capped mountains and understanding the unique attributes of a simple snowflake.

The best part of it all is you can choose! Creation is so much more than what you can see out your window. And while you may not be able to travel across the world to learn about God’s magnificent masterpieces that are strategically placed on this miracle of God’s creation we call earth, you can do the next best thing… read, learn, and explore with every part of your mind.

>>>Want to find out more? Click HERE for additional FREE resources now!<<<