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  • Jill Jarrell Newsome

Growing up outside

My days growing up here in Wilmington consisted of playing in the woods where we built camps, caught tadpoles in the ditch, made mud pies, put playing cards on our bike spikes with clothes pins to make a cool sound when we rode, caught lightening bugs at night and slept with them in a jar by my bed, played ball, played in the sprinklers. We always went barefoot. As I got older we would ride our bikes to the 7-11 and picked up bottles on the way. By the time we got to the 7-11 we could trade the glass bottles for candy. We would go in for supper and go right back outside when we finished. We would stay until Mom called us in for baths and bed.

I call myself a nature girl because I have to be outside a little while every matter the weather. I worry about some of the children today. I think being outside and in nature is essential to our healthy development. Richard Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder in his book, Last Child In the Woods. "Children today spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors and less than 25 minutes a week outdoors. A trend that is leading to epidemics in childhood obesity, depression, ADHD, Asperger’s and more...These kids are experiencing the world in a radically different way than their ancestors did and it has consequences on their spiritual development."

For me, being in nature is essential to my spiritual health! Much of my encounters with God are through nature. Being in God's creation wakes up my heart and mind. I can sit inside and watch or read about sitting on a beach with my toes in the sand and feeling the cool breeze. But that is nothing like sitting and breathing that salt air with my toes in the soft, warm sand. By being there I am experiencing nature through my body - not just my mind. Creation points to the Creator. Psalm 19: 1-2, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge."

By reading the Bible we can get a picture of who God is and He let's us admire His creation. Together, we get a perspective of who God is. He is gracious to give us creation and His Word to see the same truths. God says we can learn about Him just by observing nature. Because He has spoken through His universe, men are without excuse for not believing in Him. Psalm 14: 1, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Romans 1: 20, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

We can know about God from nature, but we can only know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ and by reading His word. We can experience God's presence through His creation and this is an amazing gift He has given us! "God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but on the trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” — Author Unknown In a tough and hectic world, nature can help us heal and calm us. We can breathe deeply the fresh air, walk among the tall trees, enjoy the fragrant flowers, listen to a bubbling brook, see the many colors, etc. When I experience this, my eyes have to lift upward! I quickly realize no matter what I am facing that it is so small in this great world designed by my Creator!


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