Saturday, May 20, 2006

God's Gifts

by Donna L. Watkins

The desired end of man on earth is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. God has one destined end for us: holiness. We were made in the image of God and His aim is the production of saints.

© Donna L. Watkins - Hummingbird Moth - Hemaris thysbe
God didn't save us because He pitied us. He created us to be holy and He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we could be rightly related to Him.

The Atonement means that God can put us back into perfect union with Himself, without a wedge between, because of the death of Jesus Christ. Do we long for that union or do we just want the blessings of God?

Sometimes I think God's purpose is to make me happy. If you listen to my prayers you would think I'd found a link to a "blessing machine." It's not necessarily all prayers for myself or my family - even prayers for others present a long list of wants for them.

It's not about what I want! God isn't waiting to hear our wants! He desires to bless us, but in being a Perfect Father, we don't always see his blessings as blessings. You know what I mean? We're not always excited about the gift of patience when we have to wait for our dreams to come true. We don't want the gift of endurance when we have to suffer through many trials to become a stronger person.

Sometimes I think I've refused to open some gifts. Instead of "giving thanks in all things" I refuse to open the gift. Oh yeah, I get the circumstances regardless, but I refuse to accept the blessing gift of endurance because I just whine and complain and beg my way around it, never opening the actual gift given.

Seems I also notice that when God wants to give us a gift, He doesn't give up after one try. When we refuse those character-building gifts, we in essence, open up the door for the enemy to continue to mess with our circumstances.

Do I believe God sits up there making a long list of "character gifts" I need and then sends bad circumstances my way? No! God gives good gifts. The devil can easily handle sending evil our way. God only allows it if it is actually going to be for our good as Romans 8:28 promises. It's hard to see the good of bad circumstances when we can't get away from looking at the outside wrapping.

If we respond right to circumstances, we will always be blessed by them. Not only us, but others around us. We are either a light on a hill shining Him for others, or we are in darkness under the bushel basket.

Oswald Chambers says, "The first thing that will hinder [this] joy, is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God's Word. Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water."

We get so caught up in ourselves. Advertising has convinced us that life should be easy and beautiful and full of everything we want.

It's not about what we want! It's about God being a Good Father! Have you been refusing His gifts to you because they aren't what you would choose for yourself? Children weren't meant to know what they really need. Parents were provided for that. Many of us didn't have good examples of who God is in our parents and we have a hard time seeing God as a good parent.

Believe the Word!

When you are rightly related to God through salvation and sanctification, you will be exactly where you need to be. Wherever you are, you are there by the permission of God, and your reaction to the circumstances will determine whether you fulfill your purpose.

Joy is available when we are truly thankful in all things. Not about them, but in them. Not thankful for them, but in them --- that you may be sanctified and set apart for God's purpose.

Think again about your circumstances. Where do you stand with your gifts? Have you tossed them on the ground refusing to open them as a child having a temper tantrum would? Repent, crawl up into His lap and find Peace and Joy amidst the circumstances.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Friday, May 12, 2006

WV Birding and Nature Festival - May 2006

As much as my husband and I love to watch birds, we never attended a birding festival. When I read that West Virginia was having a Birding and Nature Festival it sounded like the thing to do.

I love the forests of WV so it would be a good excuse to travel to our neighboring state for a good reason. It was an enjoyable experience.

View WV Birding and Nature Festival Photo Album

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hope Has Healing Power

by Donna L. Watkins

Our outlook on life can determine life or death for us according to the research presented below.

© Donna L. Watkins - Monarch on Butterfly Bush
I've had a lot of health challenges in my life and I know that my optimistic attitude has allowed me to fare much better than many I come across with the same health problems.

This year I've gotten a glimpse of where I got some of that optimism and determination. My father has had a series of operations this year and on each one he was released earlier than expected and bounced back so well the doctors were amazed. Family members were stunned at the constitution of this man.

In December he went in for an angiogram and they kept him for triple bypass surgery. They discovered colon cancer. He recouped from the bypass and three months later went in for the colon surgery which was successful without chemo or radiation. After two months of wearing a temporary bag to give the colon time to heal, they opened him again to re-connect the intestine. He's now recovered from that surgery also.

From the beginning of these surgeries he's known that he had to have surgery for an aneurysm which was to be scheduled this month and in the process of tests along the way they informed him he would need to have carotid artery surgery also. It's been a year of doctors and hospitals but his determination to get through the hurdle and onto the rest of his life has been an inspiration to many.

We have to choose how we are going to think.

There are medical costs for pessimism, and corresponding benefits from optimism. For example, 122 men who had their first heart attack were evaulated on their degree of optimism or pessimism. Eight years later, of the 25 most pessimistic men, 21 had died; of the 25 most optimistic men, only 6 had died.

Their mental outlook proved a better indicator of survival than any medical risk factor, including the amount of damage to the heart in the first attack, artery blockage, cholesterol level, or blood pressure. And in other research, patients going into artery bypass surgery who were more optimistic had a much faster recovery and fewer medical complications during and after surgery than did more pessimistic patients.

Like optimism, hope has healing power. People with a great deal of hopefulness are better able to bear up under pressure. In a study of people paralyzed from spinal injuries, those who had more hope were able to gain greater levels of physical mobility compared to other patients with similar degrees of injury, who felt less hopeful.

Hope is especially telling in paralysis patients and how the person reacts emotionally has broad consequences for the degree to which he will make the efforts that might bring him greater physical and social functioning.

Why an optimistic vs. a pessimistic outlook should have health consequences is open to several explanations presented by the medical world. One theory proposes that pessimism leads to depression, which in turn interferes with the resistance of the immune system to tumors and infection. Or it may be that pessimists neglect themselves since some studies have shown that pessimists smoke and drink more, and exercise less, than optimists, and are generally much more careless about their health habits. Or, they say, "it may one day turn out that the physiology of hopefulness is itself somehow helpful biologically to the body's fight against disease."

There are many things in the Bible being proven true by science and that last statement is an interesting thought to a scientist, but it's a Truth to a Christian if we choose to believe what God's Word says:

Psalms 39:7
And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalms 43:5
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Jeremiah 17:7
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

Romans 8:25
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

1 Peter 1:21
Who by him [Jesus] do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

It's interesting that studies have shown that the immune system instantly weakens when you frown and put on a tragic face. But when you smile your immune system and your entire body perks up. Turns out that there are various pressure points in your face that affect your entire system when you flex certain facial muscles. That should make you want to smile every chance you get. Smiling will make you more attractive as you age also, so get used to wearing a smile all day, every day. You'll be amazed at how many people will smile back and give you unexpected energy.

My prayer for you is:

Romans 15:13 - "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."

- "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman
- Optimism and bypass surgery: Chris Peterson et al., "Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)
- Spinal injury and hope: Timothy Elliott et al., "Negotiating Reality After Physical Loss: Hope, Depression, and Disability," (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61, 4 - 1991)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Praise Changes Things

by Donna L. Watkins

Have you spent much time in the Psalms? If you've had times of sorrow, grief and disappointments of life, you've surely dwelled in the Psalms of the Bible.

© Donna L. Watkins - Purple Coneflower
David was a man after God's own heart and his Psalms show us that God's love for us doesn't bring all happy and sunny days of life. Jesus told us that in this life we would have trouble and you don't have to look far to find somebody buried in it.

The Psalms are so real! David is so honest! Many of them begin with what I call whining to the Father. David pours out his sorrows and begs for God to change circumstances and to remove or give him victory over his enemies .... and then as his Faith takes over, he rolls right into praising his Papa God and ends with his own victory over the battle regardless of the circumstances.

God knows we are human. We can whine and cry on His lap, but let's make sure we receive His comfort and we stir up the Faith He has given us to praise Him and we will be lifted above the circumstances.

Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me." (John 11:41)

Jesus said this before the miracle. His thanksgiving was before Lazarus was raised from the dead. Why would He thank God before? Praise is the most important prerequisite for miracles. It's the preparatory work! Miracles are performed through spiritual power and this power is always in proportion to the faith of the one looking for results.

Henry W. Frost said that "nothing pleases God more than praise as part of our prayer life, and nothing blesses someone who prays as much as the praise that is offered."

"It is good to praise the Lord." (Psalm 92:1)

It changes our whole outlook and it truly changes things. We can't only look for the exact results we're expecting because sometimes the right answer is not the one we want. The miracle may not be the removal of the problem.

We have many mountains in life that we have had to climb and it's easy to think that the mountains are blocking our views of what we see life to be. However, if you allow God His way with you, you will find that the mountains are truly the very thing we need for achievement. They've been allowed there as a means of producing the giftings and character qualities for which we've been hoping and praying for so long.

If we praise God for the ability to move those mountains, we will see them in a different way. God will not lead us to greatness by an easy and self-indulgent life. We will have difficulties as the Bible promises, but if we praise Him in the midst of them knowing they are our pathway to the life we truly desire, we will walk with a light load as we aim to get over those mountains.

David continually praised the Lord for what He was going to do and what He was doing even when he didn't see it happening. Spend some time in Psalms and be encouraged that you will receive power equal to your burden or task.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Bluebird Nest Boxes

Question: My bluebirds just fledged from my nest box. Should I clean it out or will they use the old nest for the next brood since bluebirds usually have two broods a year?

Answer: Clean out the old nest when you know that all the birds have fledged. Any birds reusing the box will build a new nest, even if they have to build on top of the old one.

In the Fall take out the old nesting materials and put some clean dried grasses in for insulated winter protection while birds use it for roosting.

Friday, May 5, 2006

What Does 'Father' Mean to You?

by Donna L. Watkins

I had a Dad that wanted to give me the world. I can't remember in my whole life many times that he said "no" to me, and discipline was far from him. He just couldn't do it, so my mother had to.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Raven's Roost - Blue Ridge Parkway
Although that sounds pretty lovely for those who had abusive fathers, it has its downside also. I have a tendency to see God as somebody who should make things happen based upon my wants or prayers. I have had a tendency to expect God to fix it all. My earthly father always did.

It certainly didn't take long for me to realize that God was a better father than my earthly one since He could see the entire picture of my life and had created it, so He wasn't going to be side-tracked by giving into my near-sighted requests. Praise the Lord!

This warped view of love without discipline and denial of requests also gave me the attitude that God was supposed to do it all. When I was confronted with books or articles or counsel that put any responsibility on me, I was quite offended that somebody wanted me to believe that God wasn't going to fix things for me.

I'm now in my 50's and since one of my continual requests has been to never stop growing in the Lord (one that He will always honor), I've come to realize that God has already done His part in making things happen for me. He sent His only Son to die so that I would have power over the Enemy and Evil in this world. He gave me free will so I could choose to serve Him. I could choose to be victorious or I could choose defeat by not even picking up my shield of Faith.

His Word is all we need to defeat life's evil and bad circumstances. He says we can have peace and joy no matter what. If we believe that we will move on with our lives and walk in the Truth. What we believe truly directs our life's path. There's a principle of energy out there like the principle of gravity. If you drop something, it goes down. Belief is an energy and it is powerful! The world uses it in motivational techniques and it works because it's true.

We have the power to choose between good and evil and we choose what we believe by what we choose to dwell on with our thoughts. Forgiveness is a powerful weapon against the enemy. It closes many doorways he has access to in our minds. We don't have to follow in the same ruts and patterns of our genetic heritage. We are a new creation!

Choose today to put on that armor and leave self-pity behind. It is an evil power, an entity, and it desires to destroy you.

You Have Power Greater Than The Enemy!

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Love Covers All - Even Injustice!

I have spent many nights lying awake rehearsing an injustice done to me. Recently I read the following and wished I'd had this wisdom to apply on many occasions in my past. It is certainly good advice for now and the future. I'd like to share it with you if you are struggling with a hurt, an injustice, or a wound that seems too great to bear alone and too deep to ever heal.

Taken from, "Streams In the Desert" by L.B. Cowman - Selection of June 22

"At midnight I found myself completely unable to sleep," she wrote. "Waves of cruel injustice were sweeping over me, and the covering of love seemed to have been unknowingly removed from my heart. In great agony I cried to God for the power to obey His admonition, "Love covers over all wrong." Immediately His Spirit began to work the power into me that ultimately brought about forgetfulness. I mentally dug a grave, deliberately throwing the dirt out until the hole was very deep. With sorrow, I lowered the offense that had wounded me into the grave and quickly shoveled the soil over it. Then I carefully covered the hole with green sod, planted beautiful white roses and forget-me-nots on top, and briskly walked away. Suddenly restful sleep came to me. And the wound that had seemed so deadly was healed without a scar. God's love has covered so completely, that today I cannot remember what caused my grief."

Here's a few more things to ponder:

"Love covers over all wrongs" Proverbs 10:12

"Follow the way of love." (I Corinthians 14:1) - See also I Corinthians 13:7-13

There was a scar on yonder mountainside,
Gashed out where once the cruel storm had trod;
A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide
Across the soft green sod.
But years crept by beneath the purple pines,
And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,
And left it fairer now with flowers and vines
Than it had been before.
There was a wound once in a gentle heart,
From which life's sweetness seemed to ebb and die;
And love's confiding changed to bitter smart,
While slow, sad years went by.
Yet as they passed, unseen an angel stole
And laid a balm of healing on the pain,
Till love grew purer in the heart made whole,

And peace came back again.

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