Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nature Friend Magazine: I'm Lovin' It

My kids aren’t always so enthused about their “guinea pig” status when it comes to reviewing curriculum. Some items are naturally more appealing than others. Nature Friend magazine is NOT one of those product reviews that I had to remind my kids to try out. Each issue has been eagerly read by all of my kids.

We used to subscribe to Nature Friend, and like many things that become “out of sight, out of mind,” I sort of forgot about renewing again. Well, after these last two complimentary issues for review, it is clear I need to renew my subscription (and I intend to!).

There are so many great features to Nature Friend, I am not sure where to start. I guess what really pops out, while casually leafing through, would be the photography. It is just stunning. From gorgeous close-up pictures of many different creatures, to sweeping scenic expanses, the magazine glorifies God in the beauty of His creation.

Furthermore, there are excellent articles that help readers learn about amazingly clever animals. Some, like the Weaverbird that instinctively weave complex grass nests, have instincts that make you marvel. Still others, such as a walking stick, are just awesome to look at and contemplate (did you know that some of these “twigsects” can get up to a foot long? Yikes!).

There are many features about Nature Friend that the kids look forward to in every issue. One would be the “Scavenger Hunt” in which very subtle drawings appear randomly throughout the magazine waiting to be hunted down by the reader. The “Invisibles” picture is always fun too, having many hidden items in a well-drawn nature scene. There are crossword puzzles and art lessons too! A big hit is the “You Can Draw…” section; it teaches how to draw a certain item (bear, branches, birds etc.) and publishes some of the pictures drawn or painted by other readers from a previous month’s subject. My 14 year old took the time to paint a Black Bear and did a marvelous job. I wanted to take a picture of it to post with this blog but she anxiously sealed it up and sent it off to Nature Friend in hopes of being selected for an upcoming issue.

What strikes me most about Nature Friend is their inclusion of the reader. It is about as interactive as a magazine could be. Encouraging and publishing poetry, photography and articles by their young readers is a big part of what they do. In fact, they publish an entire issue each year from 100% of reader’s submissions! Taking reader demographics to a new level, Nature Friend also tailors the magazine to different ages by alternating a younger emphasis one month with an older, more complex emphasis the next. No one is left out; but even if it is not your child’s “targeted” age group, they will still get a lot from what they look at and read. Beware! It is just as appealing to adults! My mother got a hold of one and gave it a thorough looking over-- and I love to look at it as well.

The overarching feel of the magazine, what they strive to present and project in all of their pages, is God’s glory revealed in creation. It is evident from the front cover to the back that Nature Friend wants to point our awe and our interests upward to the Creator, rather than being solely focused on the creation itself. Thank you, Nature Friend, for this wonderful stand for truth that is not at all subtle!

For your own subscription to this great little magazine…visit their website at where you can get a one year subscription for $36 or a two year for $68. For an extra $2 per issue, they will include a study guide for further discovery (acrostics, true and false questions, photography tips and more…great for the homeschooler!).

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.