Growing in the Garden, Introduction

As in the case with most things we tackle, if we stand back and look, we find there are many lessons to be learned and pondered in just about everything we attempt.  One place we are told there are many ways to learn is in the garden.


The system of education instituted at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all aftertime. As an illustration of its principles a model school was established in Eden, the home of our first parents. The Garden of Eden was the schoolroom, nature was the lesson book, the Creator Himself was the instructor, and the parents of the human family were the students. Education p. 20 (read entire chapter)

For the first eight or ten years of a child’s life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. Education p. 208

In their gardening, question them as to what they learn from the care of their plants. As they look on a beautiful landscape, ask them why God clothed the fields and woods with such lovely and varied hues. Why was not all colored a somber brown? When they gather the flowers, lead them to think why He spared us the beauty of these wanderers from Eden. Teach them to notice the evidences everywhere manifest in nature of God’s thought for us, the wonderful adaptation of all things to our need and happiness. Education p. 119

We are starting a new series on our blog about gardening called “Growing in the Garden”.  In this series, we hope to share some simple gardening advice and some object lessons that can be learned with some observations in the area we are mentioning.  We would love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to add to the comments any added discussion on the topics presented.  The challenge is for us to learn to recognize true learning and how to teach with real experiences in the garden.

We are open to submissions in this series, if you would like to write about some of your gardening experiences.  Submissions from parents and your children (students) are welcome.  Please contact Ann for more information on how you can share your experiences.  Just email and we will forward any blog requests to her.

Have You Read ‘Education’ Lately?

“Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim…”

Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.”   ~Education, pg 13


When was the last time you read the book Education by Ellen G White?   Some SDA homeschool families read this regularly for inspiration, encouragement, and direction for their homeschool program.     If you have never read Education, please make the time to do so.  It is a must-read for all SDA homeschool parents.  You will be blessed.  You can read Education online HERE and HERE.

Our Most Important Homeschool Lessons

The  first textbook to be used for the education of our children is the Bible. Daily we are to use the Bible to lead our children to Christ. We are to begin with short, simple, easy to understand lessons.

“In these simple stories may be made plain the great principles of the law of God.” Education, 185.

Our goal is to direct to our children the commandments of God as standard for living, and to teach them to use the Bible as a guide for life. As we use the Bible to introduce our children to God, they will be introduced to His character and their own characters will be influenced as a result.

bibleHow should we teach our children? There is no reason for Bible study time to be dull and boring.  The pen of inspiration gives us guidance in creative ways to teach Bible lessons to our children.

“ The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory. Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods. The teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best methods, and our most earnest effort.” Education, 186.

That means that we should take some time to really think about teaching the Bible to our children.  Put some serious lesson planning effort into it!  What resources do you already have?  What could you do to make Bible study time more productive and interesting for your family?

Let us renew our commitment to consistently present to our children the most important lessons they will ever learn.

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” Ps. 34:11

Motivation Monday

house“The effort to make the home what it should be—a symbol of the home in heaven—prepares us for work in a larger sphere. The education received by showing a tender regard for each other enables us to know how to reach hearts that need to be taught the principles of true religion. The church needs all the cultivated spiritual force which can be obtained, that all, and especially the younger members of the Lord’s family, may be carefully guarded. The truth lived at home makes itself felt in disinterested labor abroad. He who lives Christianity in the home will be a bright and shining light everywhere.”

The Signs of the Times, September 1, 1898.

Faith Journal, Part Two

Years ago, I had started a homeschool journal in which I kept notes on where God worked to help guide us into homeschooling and lead us with our homeschooling. I also kept quotes and Bible texts in there to encourage me. My journal allowed me to return, revisit a situation and share the details more accurately.

While my homeschool journal was nice and it encouraged me immensely, it was specific for homeschooling. I was able to share with other homeschool parents and it encouraged them, but when I shared it with other church members or family members, they often did not receive the testimonies willingly, because the homeschooling was something they did not do and often could not relate to. For some it simply made them mad to think that God worked through our lives in our homeschooling. I realized that for some, I need to share my testimony of blessings and works in our lives that were not related to homeschooling. I realized that since my journal was “topical”, I did not always recall instances of blessings when God worked miracles with our van, with our grocery money, etc. I realized that by not writing down or not sharing, I had forgotten those blessings and I could not share the testimony with others.

I realized that the Bible affords us an account of our past. It is the Word of God to encourage us that God is with us and has been with us. Sometimes in the rushed life we live, we forget our own personal blessings and how God is with us… with “me”. If I can forget, I am sure my kids will forget as well.

We live in times that are fast paced. Our children move from one thing to the next in record time. Sometimes the moments are lost as soon as they change directions to another activity. I wanted a way that my children could learn to reflect on the works of God in their life and to be able to review it at later times to encourage them or enable them to share their testimonies.
Because I love journals, I naturally thought of creating a Faith Journal. This was a way they could improve at their writing skills, all the while documenting the blessings and the works God has done in their lives. I love it when we can add something to our studies that is practical for life, and not just an assignment. They are learning essential writing skills, while they are documenting something that is very important for their faith in God to grow, keeping their faith strong, and helping them to organize their thoughts so that they might share their testimonies more readily.

Here is what I am doing and how I am implementing it with my younger set of children.


I am purchasing a special journal book. I have one daughter that prefers a leather cover. I personally like the wire bound journals with hard front and back covers. My young ones sometimes prefer just a simple composition book. But I make the point to make it look special, because this journal in particular will have something very precious, a record of their trials, their growing faith, and a remembrance of God working in their life. What is more special than that? My journal has a picture of a butterfly, which reminds me that as I grow in faith, God is changing me. My 9 year old is not thinking that deeply, yet, so I will guide her to pick out a nice journal, knowing that the accounts will be special to her someday.

In the beginning of the journal, we will do some copy work. I chose to record the verses that were shared in Ministry of Healing, pages 100-102. These are all verses that share the vision of the meaning of the journal.

With my nine year old, her reflections will most likely at first be joint reflections, family observations, as she learns to develop that awareness of God working in her life through the family. A thankfulness journal that I mentioned yesterday can help in awakening the little things in life and even some of the bigger events and how God is working through us and others. This journal however is different in that we are writing down a testimony of how God is working in our own personal lives. It is a deeper reflection of events that we pass through. We will choose to see God and reflect on it and record the details as much as we can remember, so that we can recall it at later dates. In my own personal experience, some reflections will come at a much later date, as we see how a situation in our past was working to bring a blessing down the road. Or maybe a hurt in our past is healed by a current outcome in our lives. Or maybe in our studies, we understand truth just a bit more that we can see how God was working in our lives all along. My nine year old will struggle to think very deeply at first, but through guidance and examples, she will learn how to record things that happened in her life. I may need to write it for her as she dictates an event to me, but as she gets older and understands the purpose of the journal, she can take over and do the writing herself. I need to be careful not to make the event my event and take away my child’s own impressions. It is okay to share a personal observation from your point of view, but if your child has a definite thought on how God worked in their life, then we should allow them to record that thought, as long as it is not an incorrect thought theologically.
Also, in the midst of the journal, there will be times that a verse or a poem will have a direct impact on their thoughts or feelings of a situation. Similar to a nature journal, we will include in our journals those things that increase our faith, not only the specific situations, but a verse that was personally touching and maybe why it was so touching. I will also allow them time to doodle in their journals. Doodling can be reflective of a time that they were reflecting on God’s goodness.

Our journals will not be used every day. They will be used to record specific instances in our lives that boosted our faith. An example would be of my third daughter, who diligently prayed for her grandfather every day in her prayer journals that God would help Grandpa be able to see. He was told by doctors his condition was such that he would likely lose his sight within a year. Over 5 years later, my daughter was still praying and at a doctor’s visit the doctor was saying how he didn’t understand how her grandfather could still see. The complications were such that he shouldn’t see, but he was. Her grandfather told the doctor, it is only by the prayers of my granddaughter. Her faith is working through me. He gave a personal testimony of his eye troubles and the doctor’s comments through the years and shared it with our church one Sabbath. It was very touching. My daughter’s personal faith in the power of prayer was greatly strengthened. This would be a time that we would sit down and record the details and put it into the journal. While the testimony was of God working in her grandfather’s life, it was her own prayers that were pursued on a daily basis for her grandfather, that she could reflect on the goodness of God listening to her prayers, as her grandfather had stated he had given up hope long ago; he was not praying for healing, but his granddaughter was.

Keep the journal handy; put it into a worship basket for your child, or a special drawer or shelf where they keep their worship materials so they know where to look for it when they have an opportunity to add to their own personal testimonies of God working in their lives. Encourage your child to add to it when an occasion arises, perhaps substituting a writing assignment in lieu of documenting in their Faith Journal. Let them know that it is a priority to reflect on how God is moving in their life and treat it as such. Remember this journal isn’t just an assignment or something to fill out and accomplish. It is our life work to reflect on how God has worked in our lives and share that testimony with others. The journal simply helps a child (and an adult) to gather their thoughts, to record their thoughts, to remember the situations so that they may actively share their testimonies of Jesus in their lives with others.

Happy Journaling!

Faith Journal, Part One

ministry of healing

I was recently reading in Ministry of Healing the section titled “My Praise Shall Be Continually of Thee,” beginning on page 100. It talks of how when Christ helped others, that He asked them to share what works He had rendered unto them. This builds up the faith of those around us, but mostly builds the faith of the one doing the sharing. When we share, we speak it, and we hear it. These are proven ways for us to learn and remember. Back in Bible times, the feasts and festivals gave opportunity for God’s people to pause and remember. They spoke of God’s works and remembered His goodness. It increased their faith at the same time.

I don’t know about you, but I want my children’s faith to be strong, unstoppable, and dependable. We are told in the New Testament of how our faith needs to be used in order to grow. Our testimony of God’s works, also, is another way in which our faith will grow. Personal testimony is a much stronger way for us to grow in our faith. On page 100 of Ministry of Healing it states, “It is for our own benefit to keep every gift of God fresh in our memory. By this means faith is strengthened to claim and to receive more and more. There is greater encouragement for us in the least blessing we ourselves receive from God than in all the accounts we can read of the faith and experience of others.”

I got to thinking about how as an adult, it is sometimes hard for us to share a memory of when God worked in our lives. Children when asked to share, often just shrug their shoulders as if they don’t understand what you are trying to ask them. Many think they are too young to have a testimony of their own. This is wrong. In Psalms 71:5, the Bible states “You are my trust from my youth.” We need to be teaching our children how to recognize their faith and to recall it.

I know there are many ways to do this, and I try to teach my kids lessons when they happen, hoping that they will recognize God in our day-to-day encounters. We go over an event and share God’s blessings together. We pray and thank God for His work in our lives. This is a wonderful way to begin to recognize the works and blessings of God in our lives. We share these with others at Sabbath School, prayer meetings, AY and sometimes with friends and family. What a wonderful way to witness!

However, we often, like the Israelites, forget the blessings and forget the works of God in our lives. When we come across new friends or acquaintances in our lives, we can be a light to others by sharing our own personal testimonies. But if we don’t remember them, our faith dwindles, our faith does not remain strong and we cannot share as easily the blessings that God has rendered unto us in our lives. We like the Israelites may turn from God because we have forgotten the God who works wonders for us.

So, I got to thinking. How did the Israelites remember the blessings of God? One way is to have specified times to recall certain events. For many people I know, they keep a thankfulness journal that they can recall the blessings of the past year on Thanksgiving. They fill in 3 to 5 items a day that they are thankful for. I like that idea, but I wanted my children to remember specific blessings from God so that their faith would be strengthened and that they could share these things more with others as a testimony of God’s goodness in their lives. In Revelation 12:17 it reads, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Do my children recognize how God is working in their own personal lives? Do they have a testimony of Jesus that they can share with others? This is what I want to build.

In the next blog post, I will share the idea of the Faith Journal with you. Perhaps you will also come up with other ideas on how to build this area as well. Be prepared to share in the comments your own ideas, tomorrow, as well!