Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beehive Reader: Your Kids Will Like Getting Stung by this Reading Bug!

As a child, I was horrified by Dr. Suess. 

That may sound like American-Lit sacrilege, but the illustrations looked like some bizarre, chaotic dream, the likes of which I’ve never had a shortage of. I was neither homeschooled nor sheltered, just put off by the peculiar pictures. The illustrations didn't so much scare me as they just left me unsettled. Something to do with all the creatures having pointy fingers, I think.

On the other end of the spectrum was Winnie-the-Pooh…I mean, what’s not to like about him? I even had a “Pooh Party” at age 5; one of the few birthday celebrations that stand out in my mind. Sweet, endearing sketches by E.H. Shepard, and lots of innocent trouble made Pooh and friends a comely read. Author A.A. Milne wrote a classic that has graced many a homeschool library.

Though this may sound like a trip down memory lane, it’s really a plug for an Early Reader Series that is every bit as wholesome as Pooh-Bear. My kids have outgrown the Early Reader stage by years, yet I still enjoyed the copy of
Beehive Reader 1 by Marie Rippel and Renee LaTullippe (isn’t that just a fun last name?) that I was given to review.

This sweet book, the first in the series, explores the question, “what happens when...?” and takes the young reader on various adventures, peeking into what happens... with children playing in a pond...or when a bear cub takes a nap. Even silly ideas are handled with decorum, such as: what happened when Frank shrank! The illustrations are sumptuous and engaging, reminding me in many ways of the charming Pooh-Bear pictures (original sketches, of course…not Disney-fied cartoons!).

The simple words in this Beginning Level book are perfect for the early reader using one to two syllable words that subtly build in complexity as the book progresses. It is hardbound and ready to add to your home library ($19.95) when you click here. You can even take a peek and sample various stories within the book and see for yourself the quality reading and illustrations that await your child. It should leave you anxious to see the entire series, once it is released, from the same folks that brought you All-About-Spelling. I invite you to enjoy this inevitable classic with me!

Dr. Suess? Well, I have come to appreciate and enjoy his books much more as an adult reading them to my own children. But-- those pointy fingers still freak me out!

FamilyMint: A Superior Way to Teach Money Management!

Ah, money. That thorn in our flesh. Some people have a natural, innate accountant nestled in their inner-selves. The rest of us...not so much. Balance that checkbook lately? Sift through that pile of mail/bills lately? Oh, that “root of all evil” just has a hard time staying in spiritual “check” doesn’t it? 
With kids we all know that more is caught than taught...which is a bit scary in relation to money. Most of us adults have learned the dangers of over-spending and under-budgeting through the School of Hard Knocks (that can sometimes sound like the phone ringing with a debt collector on the other end...) and are a bit bankrupt when it comes to knowing how to change the situation.

Enter the BRILLIANT program from a website called FamilyMint. They recently allowed me to set up our own family “bank” and try their program in exchange for my blog review. This innovative and helpful website ranks as one of the best things I have reviewed all year! It is one of those things that makes you wonder why you never thought of least within the realm of your family and a spreadsheet on the PC. 
The people at FamilyMint have gone above and beyond Excel spreadsheets, however...all you have to do is become a member to begin to take advantage of this fantastic family program. What is truly amazing, is that membership is FREE! They are working on a "Pro" version that can be purchased, but that is down the road.
With FamilyMint, you have at your fingertips a ton of motivation for your children to save and many visual pictures that make the abstract things like deposits, savings, and  interest much more concrete to your kiddos. Each child is given their own account, which they can set up with an icon to easily login and find their persona. There are options to set up a general bank account or get much more detailed (the real beauty of the program, if you ask me), and designate how a deposit will be split up. 
For instance, a $10 deposit can automatically be split into, a 10% designation for tithe, a 15% designation for college, a 15% designation for an item they really want to save for, and the other 60% into a general fund that they can use for whatever. Furthermore, they can select icons to represent their categories, like a horse picture if they are saving for horseback riding lessons, for example. Along with the photo there is a “thermometer” style graph that can show the progress of a savings goal, filling in as the savings increase toward the 100% mark. Pretty cool, eh? 
By the way, you the parents are the bankers. No money actually is placed in the Family Mint’s possession. You are the banker, you keep the money in a safe place and dole it out as warranted. Furthermore, as the banker you approve the set up of your child’s account and the various transactions. If they deposit money, it isn’t officially in their account until the banker validates or “clears” it, just like a real bank. 
There are several other incentives to offer your child, encouraging them to save. I don’t know if your family gives an allowance, but one of the challenges we face in our home, due to such busy lives, is just remembering to pay it! You would think that our kids wouldn’t let it slip by-- but somehow we all are rather sporadic in our remembering. With FamilyMint, allowance is automatically added, the amount and timing programmed in by you, the banker. Furthermore, you can pay interest to your child (amount set by you, once again) for saving their money, rather than spending. You even have an option of matching their savings if there is something really important you want them to save for, similar to a 401K.
Have I piqued your “interest” yet? If so, please click here and check out this valuable program and start teaching your children responsible money management. Who might learn a little something along the way, too!  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Early Reading that is Fun and Engaging!

Kids love to solve mysteries, even if they come within a short spurt of a sentence. What Am I ? by Marie Rippel and Renee LaTulippe gives early readers just such page turning fun in their level 2, volume 1 book. These are the same folks that put out the "All About Spelling" program that some of you may be familiar with. They recently sent me a copy of two of their Readers, from their "All About Reading" program, for review. Even though my students are well past the “early reader” stage, I enjoyed perusing the pages of What Am I ? (which I will review first) and soaked in the beautiful, rich sketches that graced the pages. 
As with most early readers, the words are short and mostly one syllable to begin. Weaving various stories that, in one way or another, ask the reader to deduce who is talking or what is being described, this particular book slowly progresses in its complexity. There is a delightful variety of stories and poems to hold a child’s interest with a gradual increase in difficulty, easing the reader from one syllable words written with only a few sentences per page, to small paragraphs sprinkled with greater word challenges. 
I can see young readers really digging in and exploring these stories, delighting in playing detective, absorbing the lovely illustrations as they go. From cover to cover, this little gem imparts innocent fun that kids shall want to return to again and again. For those that are too young to read, the stories and poems will provide sweet little moments for mother and child to investigate together.
Here’s a short poem that I found particularly playful:
In My Backpack
“A frog.
A flag.
A hotdog.
A bag.
A rock from the creek.
A sandwich from last week.
A secret map to find gold.
A cute pumpkin you can hold.
The wing of a bee.
Seeds I got for free.
A bike spoke that is bent.
But no...not even a cent.”

Some selections are longer, written in story form; others are brief like the poem above, ensuring that your child will probably ask to read more! This particular book is part of a new series of Readers to be released as a set in fall of 2010. However,  What Am I? will be available to grace your collection on April 12th for $19.95. This hardcover, winsome book is one of those that will likely be saved to be explored, once again, with the grandkids. If that makes you feel rather old, then think of it as a worthwhile deposit for your child's hope-chest! Click here to obtain your copy anytime after April the 12th.

Math Galaxy, Providing a Universe of Math Practice!

Math Galaxy is a stellar math program that would work alongside any sort of math curriculum your child is using. Designed for grades K-12, I was able to choose (in exchange for my review) just what my kids needed, for their particular ability level.

The key to Math Galaxy is user friendly, repetitive practice…something you almost can’t get enough of when learning concepts that continue to build on each other. The beauty in this program is its capability to generate a NEW worksheet page, every time your child uses it! That makes for unlimited practice without the possibility of memorizing the worksheet answers. Furthermore, with each worksheet, there is an option to generate step-by-step explanations or just the answer.

Using bright graphics (that are a bit on the old fashioned side, not cutting edge like the latest video games) and with the added option of using riddles or games, Math Galaxy should easily hold student’s interest. They also specialize in using visual examples to help make abstract ideas more concrete. In fact, they have really tried to make that leap from the elementary math to the higher levels as painless as possible, linking back to familiar concepts and giving as much practice as needed within every area.

Here is a quote from their website philosophy that I found rang true (and I figured I would butcher it if I tried to restate it!):

“Unlike most math textbooks, which throw a mass of material at the student, Math Galaxy focuses student attention on concepts sequentially and interactively, based upon the ideas behind math manipulatives (such as counting blocks) and connecting new concepts to familiar experiences. Unlike most math software, it goes beyond simple games, low-level operations or rule memorization to link familiar and concrete experiences to higher-level processes. It goes beyond physical math manipulatives by linking each physical operation to its mathematical counterpart at each step, and by allowing manipulations that are difficult to do with physical manipulatives. It stresses concepts that run throughout all of basic math to provide basic understanding rather than memorized rules. Our goal is to provide students a foundation for analytical thinking in the modern world and for higher-level math and science.”

There really is a plethora of options within each category. For example, within the heading of Fractions, there are 14 specific sub-categories that you can choose from, such as: reducing fractions, word problems, volume, and pictographs, to name a few. If that isn’t enough, you also have the option of making a worksheet that uses riddles or other sorts of games using each of these sub-categories! That’s adds up to a bunch of practice, folks! (“Bunch” is a technical math term, used in those higher levels of math, in case you didn’t realize it- hee-hee).

You can order a CD that contains all of these choices that will run on your computer for $29.95 (free shipping!). Furthermore, you can order an eBook of only riddles for specific subjects that will download right on your computer for $14.95. And, on top of all these choices, there are many categories on the homepage of Math Galaxy that you can generate and do through the internet. In fact, why not try it now, and see all of the choices by clicking here, and see what you think? I’m telling you…it’s out of this world!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review of a Beguiling Romantic Mystery!

Chick Lit is not my favorite genre, but I did enjoy A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist when I reviewed it last year. So, when given the opportunity to review Ms. Gist’s latest novel, Beguiled, one she collaborated on with mystery writer J. Mark Bertrand, I was expecting good things. (And, it doesn’t hurt that mystery is my favorite genre when reading for sheer escapism). 
Riley Monroe is a dogwalker in the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina. Though she once hailed from the old money that now pays her bills, Riley is content to live meagerly in order to afford a quality nursing facility for her grandmother that raised her. Her Nonie is all the family she has since her dad walked out at age 5 causing her mother to swallow a bottle of sleeping pills, a few days later, in grief.
Riley values her client’s trust and is dependent upon their steady income to take care of Nonie. So, when a series of break-ins begin in the homes of her clients, she is angry and a bit paranoid, especially when she returns from walking a dog to discover the burglar is upstairs committing his crime! The peculiar thing about this criminal’s mode of operandi is that he only takes one item, (of lower monetary value-- but high on the sentimentality scale-- compared to other items in the home), and then donates his item to charity. Obviously, this guy is trying to make some sort of statement.
A local reporter, Logan Woods, dubs this dude the “Robin Hood Burglar” and begins to snoop around, trying to get into his head. One of the obvious connections is the beautiful dogwalker, Riley, who just happens to have keys to nearly every mansion that has been burglarized.  The police have noticed the connection as well and begin to wonder if the Robin Hood Burglar may be a she rather than a he. After all, this struggling young woman used to be one of the very elite that she now works for...could she be harboring some resentment about how life has turned out for her? Logan Woods doesn’t think so, at least not when he’s around the girl, the occasional red-flag eclipsed by her beauty and innocent personality. 
For the most part, Beguiled offers a good read, providing a nice balance of romance and mystery. The characters flesh out and the authors let the story unfold at a pace that keeps the reader turning pages. I will say that I did not care for the first several chapters of character development, in which the descriptions of the opposite sex, when encountering one another, were littered with unrealistic, rather gratuitous adjectives that were a bit over the top (not licentious, mind you, just quixotic). Frankly, I don’t think total strangers, no matter how attractive they are to one another, notice every little rippling muscle and toffee flecked glimmer of the eyes that the author’s felt necessary to include. Those descriptions felt forced and as if they were solely threaded in to attract a certain female audience that lives on the shallow side of vain. These descriptions, along with designer “name dropping”, kept me from believing the characters for who they were and made me feel like I was being advertised to: this is a cool and relevant book with beautiful characters, all wrapped in a clean-cut Christian package!  Thankfully, that changed as the book progressed, which made the the early encounters seem that much more unnatural.

I know my little blog doesn’t stir much dust in the realm of the world of publishing, but it is my hope that someone at Bethany House publishing will read this and take note that it’s readership doesn’t need to have character’s cheapened in such a way. 
Overall, Beguiled is an intriguing mystery that causes you to care about the characters as you try and connect the dots to figure out what all the subtleties could mean. I know a collaboration must offer it’s own unique set of challenges but the authors really complimented one another well and I hope they will consider another book together, down the road!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Engaging History Curriculum with a Classical Approach

It’s that time of year again...when we homeschool mom’s have to look to next year and begin to figure out just what our students will be doing then (while still keeping an eye on what they are doing now! Aren’t we amazing?!!!). With my youngest going into 7th grade, I am all for curriculum that she can do (mostly) on her own; but with her personality type in cannot be just a straightforward textbook or she’ll be miserable!
Thankfully, Pandia Press sent me a copy of History Odyssey: Early Modern by Kathleen Desmarais for me to review, and I have been happy to check off “history/geography/writing” curriculum from my list! With a classical approach, History Odyssey: Early Modern will give my daughter detailed lessons that will lay a good foundation in this period of history (1600-1850 AD). Intended for 6th grade and above, this curriculum integrates whole books along with the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon as the basis for study. My daughter will enjoy a varied palate of activities that will be filed into a notebook that she will compile over the course of the year. 
There is a healthy emphasis on outlining and writing essays as well as note taking, keeping a timeline, writing biographies, and learning geography in this curriculum. In fact, the cover of the book states that it is “a literature based study guide combining history, geography and writing” (however a basic writing course prior to using this material is recommended because it does not delve deeply into logistics; assignments assume there is some basic knowledge of structure). Although some parental oversight will be needed, it really looks like a program she can take initiative with, understanding what is required from each lesson. There is quite a bit of reading involved so, if that is a struggle for your student, you may need to be more hands on in that area. The maps and workbook pages are all included in the appendix and are reproducible for your child, which is always a plus. Another feature I appreciate is that the material was sent unbound, but three-hole punched, ready to be placed into a notebook! Way to make life easier, Pandia Press! (I just realized that there are a list of vendors on the Pandia Press Website that carry the paper versions of the book. However, you can instantly buy all of their curriculum as an eBook that will download directly to your computer, just printing out the pages you need. You can decide which version will be best for your school).

History Odyssey: Early Modern is one of many history curriculums offered on their website, utilizing the Classical approach (written for the logic and rhetoric stage). They also offer science curriculum. See for yourself what they carry, and enjoy the "try before you buy" feature by clicking here. You will get a full years curriculum, for $28.99 -$33.99 depending on the particular history time period you buy, this price is for the eBooks, there is not a price given for the paper versions, but there are connections on site to those that carry them. Also realize that you will need to purchase the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and The Story of Mankind, as well as purchasing or checking out from the library about a dozen other books for reading through the year. For the sake of interest and retention, this is the best fit for my student and will be worth every penny!

There's a "Mapp" for That!

Ever watch your man study a map? There’s just an intensity there, wheels visibly turning, all the parts falling into place as the big picture becomes focused. Then, there’s the favorite map of females everywhere... the mall directory with a great big red star that proclaims: “you are here!”. Maps are important; maps give perspective; and maps are a big part of understanding the larger scope of history, especially for kids.
Homeschool in the Woods recently sent me their wonderful maps to review and I am excited to share them with you! As your kids study the past, maps will help to provide a big “red star” of sorts, that let’s them know that this important event happened “here”...and helps them to reflect the past back to their own spot on the map, to see how that relates to them currently.
If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, you know you can’t underestimate the power of a good, handy map! Much time can be wasted on the internet looking for just the right one, with certain borders or features, or from a particular time period. Or, like me, you may own a book of maps that are reproducible...but you can’t quite get the book flat enough in the copy machine to print out one decent piece of paper minus a dark, foggy line up one side...argh!
Argh no more! Homeschool in the Woods has thought of everything for your mapping needs. Their Olde World Style United States Maps come in so many format choices, there should certainly be something for everyone. From U.S. maps that show physical features or political borders, to maps that display Colonial America or Slave/Free states, there seems to be a map for any and every need. You also have the flexibility of having a map with or without labels, enabling you to print from your computer just the right amount of info and leave off things you want your child to fill in. 
The folks at Homeschool in the Woods suggest printing these maps on manila or parchment to give an old world feel, there are other tips for creating beautiful yet functional maps, as well. There are also pages to print for various labels, flags, notebook covers (to create a nice, personalized map book) and more. They’ve even included bonus notebook pages for you to use containing state facts, and special sheets for lap-books too!
But wait! There’s more! Forgive the sales pitch, but I have only given you half of the story as far as the offerings from Homeschool in the Woods is concerned. Besides the thorough options for mapping the U.S. (more than I have mentioned), there are equally amazing maps for charting the rest of the world. 
It would take up too much space to list all of the maps you can print for studies with their Olde World Style Modern and Ancient World Maps, but let me just throw some out there (besides the obvious maps that one would expect in such a collection, there’s many more that you will find useful). For instance, there are maps for ancient Rome, the twelve tribes of Israel, Paul’s missionary journeys and the Ancient Viking World, to name a few. Furthermore, there are modern maps, timelines, and maps for oceans too.
The notebook pages available with the World Maps are well rounded, spurring on creative ways to make history or geography come alive. There are pages for Explorers, Flora and Fauna, Languages, Holidays, and more! Your kids can make travel brochures for places they are studying with the Brochure templates. There are also printouts that look like scrolls, or pages to help your student write a report. The plethora of choices gives a whole new meaning to “thorough”. Homeschool in the Woods seems to have covered all bases and I am very thankful to have their maps available on my computer, to print out just what I need, just how I need it...without a big black smudge across the edge! I hope I have piqued your interest enough that you will check out these offerings, as well as many other helpful history and timeline products, including free unit studies, available on their website: here. At just $18.95 each (downloaded straight to computer, or for $1 more you can have it in a CD format) or $28.95 for both sets (add $1 for the CD) these maps are an investment in your school with paybacks every time you hit that “print” button.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Psssst! Homeschool Library Builder is a Resource You Need...Pass it on!

A few moments at a homeschool book-fair and any newbie can deduce that curriculum is not a one size fits all affair. So how unusual and refreshing to find a homeschooling website that has something to offer everyone! Best of all, membership is free!
Homeschool Library Builder is truly a benefit to anyone in the realm of homeschooling that uses those highly sought after items: books! New, used or specified, this site is a great first stop when hoping to find a book your child needs, they even will let you search by curricula. Looking for a rare, hard to find book? The staff at Homeschool Library Builder is even there to play detective if you need them. What a marvel! Or, how about a safe place to advertise to other homeschoolers about your homegrown business? There’s an app for that--er, um-- a place for that, rather, on this site, too!
Basically, Homeschool Library Builder is one of those sites you would like to pass on to everyone you know...or perhaps wish someone had already passed on to you. Better yet, when you share this site with your friends, you can earn money toward the purchase of books you need when they purchase books for themselves. All the info is on the site, when you click on this link. Check it out, it won’t bite and it will likely reel you in to browse their book selection, sign up for free as a member, and start reaping the benefits of being well connected to a truly helpful homeschooling source! And for a little icing on this already sweet cake...a portion of the proceeds from the site go to help various ministries, making this an eternal investment as well. Homeschool Library Builder is a win, win situation for everyone!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Graphics Toolbox: Discover the Creative Graphic Possibilities!

“Brilliant”, “creative”, “limitless” and (dare I say?) “genius” are words that come to mind when thinking about the possibilities that Graphics-Toolbox has to offer. Unfortunately, there are a couple of other words that tag along behind the first group, words like: “big learning curve”, “frustrating” and “huh?”.
Let me back up a bit. Awhile ago the amazing minds at Graphics-Toolbox contacted all of us on the TOS Crew to review their program that enables its users to design professional looking ________(fill in the blank with anything containing a photo and/or text in it) right from their home computer. Not only were they offering us a chance to try their software, but they were enthusiastically giving online sessions to show all of the wonderful things Graphics-Toolbox is capable of.
After viewing the first session, I was quite impressed and really pumped! In fact, this is probably my favorite product of the many fine things I have received thus far in my tenure as part of the Crew. And, I might add, even though I’ve yet to figure it out well enough to complete a single project (hence the “frustration”), I still say it’s my favorite.
Ok, let me back up a bit more...Lynda Holler, the founder of Graphics-Toolbox, spent 25 years working in the NYC fashion industry using powerful graphics software for textile and design. Having been spoiled by such software, she felt the void of no longer having such magic at her fingertips once she left the industry. She also knew she could still utilize such magic for a plethora of other things in this digital age, if only she could have such a program for home use.

Apparently a doer, rather than a dreamer, Lynda contacted William Tsao, the man who designed the "Colour Matters" software she enjoyed using so much (that also costs thousands of dollars, I might add!). Knowing that others would also love to have such potential to create amazing graphics from the comfort of their home, she and William set out to bring the affordable  Graphics-Toolbox to any home PC (just $149).

Fast forward to present day PC now has some of the coolest software ever, taunting me to let the creative juices flow. Thus far, I have tried and failed, but I will try again. I really hoped to have a cool example of what I made for show and tell with this blog, but as the deadline for this review looms close, my projects haven’t made it off the cutting room floor. I hope that I will have an example for you soon, but in the meantime there’s much you can look at on their website (link below).
The customer service offered is another component of the Graphics-Toolbox product that makes the investment worthwhile. They want you to learn how to use their software and get the most from it. Besides being able to watch videos on their website to train you to use their product (I have watched two thus far), they have been quick to answer questions I have emailed and even offered to walk with me through my snares and obstacles to get a finished product. As you might guess (due to lack of finished product), I have not been able to coordinate my free time with theirs in order to do that.

To this point, I feel I have not given you, the reader, a very good idea of what you can do with Graphics-Toolbox. That is a tough one because there’s a tremendous amount of tools to help you tackle any sort of graphic job you could possibly dream up! Scrapbook pages, school projects, and cards for all occasions may be some obvious ideas that spring to mind. But the possibilities are only limited by your imagaination. Report due for school or work? Resume? Business cards? Newsletter? What about a fun before and after picture in which you take subtle elements from the original picture of your son’s baseball team (let’s say a ball, a tennis shoe, and...oh...hmmm...people’s heads, maybe?) and swap them seamlessly around in a second photo, then pass them out as souvenirs to the team and see how many changes they can spot! Sound crazy? Well, that is actually one of the video demonstrations I watched. It is crazy! You really can clip out one person’s face and swap it with another’s. You can change the logo on someone’s shirt or just subtly change hair color. Add cool borders and text and it looks incredible!
One plan I have for this software is to take a picture of the side of my house and try different awnings (striped, solid, multicolor) and shutters from pictures I find on the internet, to see what will look the best before I purchase it. I can find a photo of an awning and very precisely cut it out and place it (enlarging and shrinking as necessary)on the photo of my home for a realistic idea of the finished product!  If we ever decide to paint our home, we could try any color we want and get an excellent idea of what it will look like in real life. Cool, eh?

I know, it doesn’t make much sense that I cannot quite work the software, and yet here I am bragging about how great it is! Let’s just say, it isn’t the software, it’s me. Well, maybe a bit of both. There is just a tremendous amount of variety in the tools. So many colors to choose from (or you can mix your own), so many ways to cut out an area, erase something, center an image and fill in the background...or is there? So many of the tools do something similar to their counterpart but they aren’t precisely what I want, and even after looking at the manual (which is large and seemingly thorough, yet still being misinterpreted by me when I refer to it), I cannot quite get the effect that I am after. However, I am certain that it is a worthwhile endeavor-- sort of like learning to drive a stick-shift car-- complicated at first, but in the end, it flows easily and you're glad you made the effort!
That said, the ability to create just about any amazing project is sitting there on my computer, I just haven’t mastered it yet (hence the “learning curve”). But I am still stoked about the possiblities and so are my children. I had them watch one of the videos with me and they were truly excited to try Graphics-Toolbox as well. Unfortunately, they hit the same road blocks that I did. (Which makes me feel better about my skills...apparently it isn’t just me). But I am confident that with time and effort we can all utilize this tool for so many projects and we will be glad to have it at our disposal.
I honestly believe you will be too! Once purchased, the software is installed on your computer for good and should pay for itself repeatedly in professional looking reports, fabulous scrapbooks, impressive projects and personalized cards that others will treasure for years. Click here to go to the Graphics-Toolbox site and see for yourself what wonders you can create!

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.