Monday, July 31, 2006

Spoiled Meat Looks Fresh 8 Weeks After Sell-by Date

Attention, meat shoppers: Your supermarket may be selling ground beef and steaks packaged with gas that keeps it looking red for a month or longer. Consumer Reports tests found that meat packaged using that method stayed red even if it was spoiled. They tested 10 samples of locally purchased ground beef and steaks from three companies. We found that the meat appeared red even if it was spoiled or had bacterial counts that were close to indicating spoilage. By their use- or freeze-by date, seven samples were fresh but two packages of ground beef from one company were spoiled; an additional sample was on the brink of spoilage a day before the stamped date. Get more info - find out what you can do at your grocery

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Buy Hot Sauce, Save An Elephant


In Africa, farmers use the spicy chemical in locally grown chilis to keep elephants away from other crops. And in a unique marketing campaign designed to help farmers and save elephants, a line of Elephant Pepper chili products is now being sold in the United States.

The goal, in a cooperative effort between African farmers and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is "to create new economic opportunities for rural Africans and support efforts to safely reduce the conflict between elephants and humans in Africa," according to a WCS statement. Elephants do not like capsaicin, the chemical in chilis that makes them hot, so farmers surround maize and other crops with buffers of chilis. They also mix crushed chilis with used grease and smear it on fences. And they mix chili with animal dung to make briquettes, then burn them at night to create a noxious smoke. Chilies are also sold to the Elephant Pepper brand for hot sauce products (see Proceeds from the sales of the products are then donated to Elephant Pepper Development Trust.

Elephant Pepper product line now offers U.S. consumers a means of supporting both elephants and sustainable development in Africa," said James Deutsch, director of WCS’ Africa Program.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Imagine That

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Morning Glory
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. --- Matthew 5:6

I want to be filled. Don't you want to be filled? Filled with joy and peace and love and just ooze with mercy and love for others? Have you met anybody like that? There are few out there in our current world of so much bad news and stress-filled lifestyles. Deep within each of us is the capacity to be like that. Imagine how you would feel being that kind of person.

I've always been a wild horse. Rebellious, stubborn and full of pride. It had to be my way as a child and being raised as an only child by my grandparents, it pretty much went my way. I think those of us who are wild horses take a lot more bumps and bruises in life to get the real message. It takes a lot for us hard-headed folks to break away from our sins since we were made tough enough to handle it all; to find our way around bad circumstances and keep on plowing through, even if we do so in misery.

How many burdens and health problems can I truly handle? The weight and pain of health issues can cause somebody to turn to Christ and choose life ... or to turn away in anger because they are not getting their own way. I still struggle with those thoughts against God when I don't get what I want. When my prayers aren't answered with "yes." I find that many times God gives me a "yes" answer to my delight, only to find that I end up in the devil's wasteland getting my own way.

It's quite a lesson to learn to "humble myself in the sight of the Lord" as the song and Scripture says. Matthew 5:6 above tells me that I will be filled if I hunger and thirst after righteousness. Gee, what would it feel like to always be filled. No ups and downs, no mountain tops and valleys. Can you imagine that?

I am usually so busy being hungry and thirsty for my own way. What does this mean? I asked to be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and here I find out how to get that prayer answered. It's up to me!

Smith Wigglesworth says, "If you ever see a "shall" in the Bible, make it yours.

Health problems? Wouldn't it be just grand if God would just take away all our diseases? I like that thought, but the Bible tells us that Christ healed all of our diseases. We need to appropriate that healing with our faith. How many times did Jesus say, "Only believe." How do we believe when so few in the church have been able to take this to heart and make it happen?

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God is what Hebrews says, so what am I listening to? My own negative and faithless thoughts or am I thinking, believing and hearing the Word as I meditate on healing Scripture. Oh, how much easier it is to wallow in self-pity and beg God to just do it. Where is all my head-strong and stubborn determination in this arena of life?

Smith Wigglesworth says, "Jesus was true, inwardly and outwardly. He is "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6), and on this foundation we can build. When we know that our own hearts do not condemn us (1 John 3:21), we can say to the mountain, "Be removed" (Matthew 21:21). But when our own hearts do condemn us, there is no power in prayer, no power in preaching. We are just "sounding brass or a clanging cymbal" (I Corinthians 13:1)."

Father, we hunger and thirst for your righteousness. Help us to look away from everybody else and look to Your Word and Your Truth about healing. Your Word says You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Increase our faith, Father, that we may see the healing that Jesus made available to us on the Cross. He turned no one away. He healed them ALL. I believe Your Word, Papa, but as the father of a demon-possessed son said to Jesus when He walked this earth, "Help my unbelief!"

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Women’s Sleep Habits Predict Weight Gain

Skimping on sleep may mean greater weight gain for women. That’s the finding of a study presented in San Diego at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference.

Data came from 68,183 healthy women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study. The Nurses’ Health study started in 1976, when women were 30-55 years old. In 1986, the women reported how much sleep they usually got per night. They reported their weight every two years for the next 16 years.

Women who reported sleeping five or six hours per night gained more weight than those who got seven hours of nightly sleep, the study shows. The researchers included Sanjay Patel, M.D., of Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. Read the rest of the story

Recycled Gold Jewelry Saves the Earth

Gold is a very versatile metal. It is malleable and ductile. It’s a good conductor of heat and electricity, immune to tarnish, and resistant to acids. Although these properties make it very useful in industrial applications, 80% of the gold used each year nonetheless goes into jewelry.

While gold is valuable enough to provide an incentive to recycle, significant amounts of gold sit idle, while mining continues at a pace of 2,500 tons a year. In fact, there is enough gold above ground (already mined) to satisfy all demands of the jewelry industry for the next 50 years. Much of it sits in bank vaults and in the form of old and unused jewelry.

Consumers have the ability to demand the liberation of that idle gold through their purchasing decisions. Demand for recycled gold, in conjunction with campaigns to clamp down on ecologically and socially unacceptable mining, holds the potential to effect change. Because this methodology helps societal custom work in concert with principles of commerce, it can be embraced by consumers and producers alike, and therefore result in sustainable change.

Buying recycled gold is one of the most ecologically and socially responsible choices a consumer can make. Consider

Get more information:
Gold Mining and Processing – The High Cost of Gold Jewelry

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bluebird Cove 10: Letting Go Of River Trails

My heart was broken and I knew I had to detach myself from the project, but there was still so much to be done. The house had just been framed up and most of the detailed work was yet to be done. We had informed the builder we would not be moving in and since he was discouraged about the whole project, it was agreed that we would take over the sub-contracting and finish the project ourselves. He was kind enough to provide us with some names of people to work with.

We had this huge task before us with no rewards on the horizon for accomplishing it. The property was an hour away so any time we had to meet somebody there, it was two hours just for driving. It was going to be a long road to get this out of our faces and I was not of much help. I visited the place after all the distruction and at that point decided that I couldn't live there. Randal had no objections since the home had changed so much from what we had designed.

Randal managed the project as best he could while we both kept working at our business. A lot of that time period is foggy to me now. I was so saddened by the event and I knew it would not be easy to begin again after the horror of what happened at River Trails. It had taken a year and a half to find the land and over a year to build the house. It only took four months to sell it and the buyer was a young musician who was soon to have a bride. He would use the porch to write music and got our permission to use it even before we closed. There was some comfort that the beauty and views and the home would be used to create music.

I concentrated my energies on developing Bluebird Cove and we had more and more neighbors moving in nearby so we began to sink some roots into Lake Monticello, but they seemed to be shallow roots for both of us.

Within my heart was the longing for what had slipped through our hands. I became addicted to the real estate magazines hoping each week to find the place that we had moved to Virginia for, but never to find it ..... and possibly never to really know what it would look like.

They had cleared some of the woods behind us to build on to the shopping center. We could now see bright lights in the windows at night during the six months of the year we were without leaves on the trees. The parking lot noise with trucks and loud music from cars wasn't the only thing that bothered us. The bright stars and dark skies were no longer the same since light pollution had affected our views.

Our minds have been blurred by all these circumstances and the special friends we've made here, and the difference we are making for wildlife at least on our one acre of land. We were totally confused on what to do about our original dream that propelled us from Alabama to Virginia.

In the interim, we had battled a development that was to go in nearby behind us on most of that 40 acres of woods. The guy developing it was the same one who said it would never be developed. Matter of fact, he already had plans and various approvals for it before he even told the people buying his homes on this street that it would never be developed. That got our neighborhood together to try to fight the project with many meetings at the courthouse and after many months, Nahor Village was approved for retirement homes and buildings along with an assisted living center.

The project broke ground a few months ago and we are now entertained with the beep-beep of the equipment and the horrible sounds of trees falling to the ground. Since it's along a main highway, there is nothing keeping them from beginning at 6 AM, so there is little solace available on our porches these days.

We are blessed that there are two pieces of land, each under seven acres, behind us that is between us and Nahor Village. The one piece comes up to the rear of our neighbor's house and has a home on it. The other lot comes to the rear of our home and it's for sale. Since it's long and narrow and is zoned agricultural, it hasn't sold in the year that the sign has been on it. Of course, we are so grateful, but we can't help but wonder how long that will remain without development.

The lessons I'm learning at Bluebird Cove are many and if you have been a subscriber to "A Healing Moment" that I write, you will know that God has taught us much as we choose to follow Him and set our hearts on things above that are lasting and not on what will all burn up in the end.

God is faithful and all of these events have taught me that we have a choice to choose peace and joy in the Lord, or restless discontentment in the world. I have slipped into ruts now and then as I choose to not let my joy be determined by where I live .... but God is always there if I choose to focus and meditate on His Word and remind myself that where I live is not who I am and it's not the priority of my life. God promises to guide us.

We have continued to develop more and more habitat and gardening has been a great solace to me as I see the character and beauty of our Lord in His Creation. The more attached to Bluebird Cove, this one acre of land, that I become, the harder it is for me to actually consider leaving..... but there is still something within me that says, "This isn't forever."

Bluebird Cove 9: Finding River Trails In Nelson County

Yes, we had found land in Nelson County with great diversity of plants. The small development of one road with about 12 homes was called River Trails. It was far enough off the main highway to have an absolute stillness about it. You drove back to the entrance to the community alongside a running creek and the cove was surrounded by mountains.

We had found our own little piece of Heaven.

We had a forester out that the state provided and she identified so many wonderful native trees and plants that would be great wildlife habitat. We even had persimmon trees and Umbrella Magnolia. This type of magnolia only grows in a very small area of the Appalachian Mountains in that part of Virginia and stretching over into West Virginia. What a treasure. We had hazelnuts, mountain laurels, white pines, a hemlock on the bank down near the creek, and an endless supply of wildflowers to be discovered.

We had chosen a conservation/green builder to build and he was willing to work from my floor plans since he and his crew preferred not bother with the excess of architectural plans. We certainly didn't mind saving the architect's fees, so I began drawing in the format he requested. We had agreed the land would be disturbed as little as possible and all trees would be kept close to the house. The builder did a great job of putting in the driveway winding around the large trees and we were thrilled beyond belief that our little wilderness paradise project had finally begun.

The floor plan task became a spiral of time pressures and revisions and it seemed the grade of the land and placement of the home didn't allow some of the things we had designed in, such as a two-car garage and side pedestrian door. The problem was that it wasn't discovered until building had begun. Little by little it seemed one important thing after another was removed from our home plan as the builder discovered issues with the grade. Randal began to feel like it wasn't the home he wanted ..... and it also appeared to me that our dream was slipping away.

Slipping away is what it actually did. The year was a very wet one and the builder had one problem after another because of the rain, but we were patient. We didn't have a deadline other than the excitement of living there. We didn't realize that living there was not going to happen.

Delivery of the septic tank was scheduled and the driver of the truck turned into an old driveway at the beginning of the property that was put in when the small community was developed about 12 years earlier. It was very overgrown with young trees coming up, but that didn't seem to alert the driver and he plowed right through down to the house site 90 feet away and got stuck. They had to tow him out and the entire area was horribly ragged and I was heartsick. We'd lost some trees I had already become friends with.

If that wasn't enough at the same time the equipment that was right behind the house digging the septic tank hole slid down the hill. Until they got that out of there, they had removed a 40' x 75' area of trees. This was behind the screened porch that ran the entire length of the house. The tall old trees that would shelter the porch and provide high in the trees views of the birds and squirrles were gone. The porch was to be "my space." I knew I would live out there and work out there in as many ways as I could and it was to be where I would write. It was now destroyed and with it were my dreams for River Trails.

Greening Bluebird Cove and Lake Monticello 8

We dove right into greening up our acre, unable to pass any place along the road that sold plants. We were excited to provide some habitat for the wildlife at Lake Monticello that would be here long after we would find our land and build our home.

It didn't take too long to figure out that we weren't going to get very far on the landscaping project because the deer were eating entire bushes up not long after we would plant them. The deer here at Lake Monticello certainly did not look like the deer we'd seen continually visiting The Refuge, our home in Alabama. Their growth was stunted and their ribs were showing. This female deer that visited never grew any bigger than this. We named her Skitter. She would visit regularly to drink from our bird bath for over a year and then she just stopped coming.

The lists of plants that deer don't eat offered us no real help since starving deer will eat just about anything. This seemed to propel me into more action. I decided to start a Backyard Wildlife Habitat Club here at Lake Monticello. I felt there were surely others in this community of over 2,000 homes that were concerned about wildlife and maybe together we could help to balance things out by educating ourselves and others.

The first couple meetings were held in our home and I used materials I had gathered to share with the people that attended. The community had a clubhouse so I booked a room at no cost and promoted the monthly meeting. It grew as I found speakers that provided great information and I scheduled a couple of field trips during the month so we could spend some time together apart from a meeting room and we were still wanting to see much of the natural world in this area of Virginia, so why not see it with others with similar interests.

I continued it for over two years with a few volunteers that helped with set-up and welcoming, but it became too much for me to do and pleas to divide up duties were unfulfilled so it seemed best to move on to something else. We were building a home in Nelson County by now and thought we would soon be moving, so there seemed to be no reason to keep the club going if it was going Some of our best friends have come out of that club, and it certainly educated us and gave us a lot of contacts in the area and lots of volunteer opportunites.

We had learned a lot and were also being taught by the deer what we could plant that they had no interest in. We wanted things for birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. Gradually we were gaining a bit of ground as we discovered what would work in our yard. We also discovered that many in the community simply hated the deer and other wildlife. Most of the residents had moved down from New York and Connecticut suburbs and although this is a wooded rural area, they had not considered that in the realm of landscape plans, so to them it was simply a war against the deer.

The attitudes were sad and having that environment to live in only made it harder to be at Lake Monticello, so we were really excited to have found a piece of land that was almost seven acres of great biodiversity and incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The property even had a creek on one border and it finally looked like our dream was moving forward.

Arriving At Bluebird Cove 7: Hello Virginia!

We arrived at Lake Monticello after driving the two trucks through the night with a rest stop snooze of an hour. The two feral cats in Randal's truck had sung most of the way. Don't you wonder how cats and dogs can howl for so long without getting hoarse? I do.

We had walkie-talkies that we'd used to stay in touch along the highway and anytime I would talk to Randal the cats would start howling. He told me they were quiet otherwise, but I'm not too sure I believed him. I'm sure they were pretty scared in such unfamiliar conditions. I'd read what to do when we got to the new home and placed them in a small confined area so they could feel safe within that environment. It happened to be the master bathroom.

After we got unloaded and all doors closed, we would let them have the screened porch to adjust to the sights and smells of the area in another safe and secure environment. I had told them before we left that they were going to become Happy, Health, House Kitties and they seemed to readily agree with me.

The people we had hired to unload us did not show, so we got the mattress out of the truck and into the house before dark and slept on the living room floor under the skylights. I was amazed at the blue of the sky in Virginia. We had never seen such bright skies in Alabama. Although we were exhausted from the packing, loading, and driving, I remember lying there for quite some time looking at all the stars and thanking God for a safe journey to our new home.

The next morning Randal went to a few neighbors to get ideas on where we could hire some folks to help unload the trucks. A nearby convenience store had a lady working there that did this sort of thing with her son. They arrived a few hours later and got the furniture into the house in record time. We were both impressed and Randal was very grateful to get the job done and get the trucks dropped off in Charlottesville.

We were so happy and excited about our move to Virginia, but when we unloaded the mattress after arriving, we noticed cars behind those "40 acres of woods that would never be developed." Walking through the back yard down into the hollow and back up to the rise, we realized it was a shopping center. We had seen the place in September and it was now a week into November and most of the leaves were gone, so those 40 acres weren't as deep as they were wide.

The weather was still nice so we made sure, between getting settled and keeping up with the business, that we got out to discover something several days each week. We were looking forward to our first winter "up North" and I wondered how many years it would take to have enough snow to build a snowman.

We were only in a few weeks before being invited to a Christmas gathering of the neighborhood and what a delight it was to meet Bob and Kathy who lived directly across the street from us. It was their gathering and there couldn't have been a warmer welcome. We had lived in Alabama 18 years as vegetarians and found few to really know what the word meant.

We were standing in the kitchen of our new neighbors when Kathy pulled a tray out of the oven with bruschetta and offered us some. I thought it had pepperoni on it and mentioned we were vegetarians. Kathy asked, "Vegan or do you eat cheese?" Well, you could've blown us away with a breath! We were so shocked and thrilled all at the same time we were almost speechless. She informed us that it was sun-dried tomato slices, but it did have cheese on it.

Even now, six and a half years since that time, it brings a smile to our faces. We surely felt like we were in the right place.

We got settled in quickly having much less house and stuff to organize and began our search for land which allowed us to learn the area very quickly with maps and day trips to various areas. We thought we would find something readily and begin to build so I was already sketching out floor plans of what we wanted. I'd looked at hundreds of floor plans and couldn't find one "just right." Like Goldilocks I think I was being much too fussy, but I was having fun with it all and it certainly kept me entertained while we discovered more and more of the places within an hour of where we lived.

It didn't take long to realize that Nelson County was the spitting image of the place of my dreams. Very wild with no real developed towns. The county seat of Lovingston had one shopping center and some family-owned businesses. The views were incredible and the feel of the county was unmatched with anything we saw outside of it. After all, it included the town of Schuyler which was the setting for the television program, The Waltons. A program we loved to watch as a family, so why wouldn't it be a dream come true to live near there?

We wanted land with a lot of diversity of plant life since we wanted to make it a wildlife refuge, and since Virginia is over-populated with deer, much of the undergrowth of many areas was well eaten by browsing deer. It proved to be a greater challenge than we thought, but I was diligent.

We named our home Bluebird Cove at Green Acre because of all the bluebirds that we saw our first winter here and because we had an acre and wanted to green it up. We'd never had bluebirds in Alabama since our home was surrounded by forest and bluebirds like open space. After naming The Refuge it only seemed appropriate to have a name for our home.

As Spring arrived at Lake Monticello, we began to add some plants that would benefit wildlife. We had certified The Refuge in Alabama with the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Habitat Certification Program and wanted to do the same here. The four requirements for wildlife are: food, water, cover, and nesting places. We were a bit short on cover since it was a new home and there were no bushes and little undergrowth other than a lot of wild blueberry bushes which were low to the ground.

We were about to learn very quickly that we were not going to be the ones to decide what types of plants we had at Bluebird Cove. That would be decided for us by the deer.

Before Bluebird Cove 6: Saying Goodbye To Alabama

It was really hard to leave "The Refuge." That's what we called our home in the woods in Alabama. It had been a refuge for me and leaving the home where we had seen our son, Benjamin, grow up was hard. He had labored with us in the work of the land and there were sweet and sad memories everywhere.

That became something to hold on to as a reason to leave. A fresh beginning. Ben was doing well in Oklahoma with his job and was in the process of growing up apart from the confines of our home. God would be the one to guide and shape him now. We've watched many families of birds nesting around our home, so we knew there came a time in life for the little ones to fledge because they had become too "big" for the nest. There came a time for them to learn about the world and how to survive in it.

I like change and I'm always ready for a new and exciting project. A move is certainly a project and one that I've done rather well over my lifetime. I moved a lot when I was single wanting to work at various places to get out and see the world. We had a number of corporate moves also, so organizing a move and packing up a home was nothing new to me.

We returned from Virginia ready to go. We decided to make the move ourselves for the savings of it all. We'd done it before and had friends to help so it was a rather fun day of it all getting the trucks loaded, but by evening when Charlie Allred got the two cars secured on the carriers behind our 21' trucks, we were tired and yet excited to get to our destination.

We had two feral cats that we called "ours" and we intended to take them with us to Virginia, so I had put them both in the screened porch for the day so they would be ready to go also. One of them we called Kitty Girl. She was a gift from God to me only a couple of weeks after my favorite cat had died at 20 years old. She looked just like her except for a smudge on her face. What a delight it was to have her. Before we could trap and spay her, she had a litter of three kittens. We found homes for two of them after trapping them, but the third one got away. We always assumed a fox had probably gotten him, but a year later he came to the house to eat with Kitty Girl. We called him Kitty Boy.

There were 13 hours between us and our new home, but we had planned to drive all night to avoid the heavy traffic on the interstates. After all, I wasn't totally comfortable behind that wheel. I had done this before when we moved my parents from PA to OK, but it had been 21 years before. When we had gone to pickup the trucks, the one I drove home didn't have the car trailer secured properly and it slipped up under the truck at the first light. That incident proved to unsettle my mind a bit as we pulled out from Prattville, Alabama, headed for Palmyra, Virginia.

Before Bluebird Cove 5: Choosing Charlottesville, VA

From our research we had determined which communities we wanted to live in around Virginia and which ones we ruled out because of environmental issues or climate. All of this was based on internet research. The internet is a great tool, but it doesn't cover every detail.

We initially took a trip to Richmond and spent a couple of days with a realtor and realized pretty quickly that it was not a place in our dreams. The rural areas we looked at were really rural and we realized that it was much too far away from the mountains.

Back to Alabama and then another trip to Virginia took us to the Charlottesville area which we had decided was it. We were going to buy a home, get settled, then look for land and build.

We had three specifications for the temporary home:

1) A screened porch because I can't imagine living without one, but now it was absolutely necessary since we were going to bring two feral cats.

2) I had to have a wooded view.

3) A new home so we could easily resell in a year or two.

The #1 community that we had said we would not live in and was Lake Monticello for varied reasons, one of them being that it was a gated community. It just didn't seem to go with the wilderness concept, but then it was only going to be a temporary home, right?

When we sat down with the realtor and put in our three specifications, there were three results within our price range and size. We had already gone the big house route and it was nice for home schooling, running a business, and having a lot of gatherings of our business group, but our son was grown and gone, we had converted to an internet business, and we would have no business group to gather in Virginia.

Two out of the three homes were in Lake Monticello. Oh my! Well, we may as well see them.

The first one was where we now live. It was almost complete when we arrived. Carpet was down, the garage door was missing but nearly everything else was in place. The colors were perfect, it had 9' ceilings and transoms, and the floor plan was just right. A screened porch, deck and covered front porch with a wooded lot and 40 acres in the rear that "would never be developed." I've since learned to realize that there is no land that will "never be developed" unless it's a preserve or land under conservation easement. We didn't realize how quickly that would be a concern for the land bordering the rear of our side of the street.

We had sold and given away a lot of our stuff to downsize, but Randal still thought we would not fit into 1584 square feet. I had drawn it all out on scale paper, so I knew we would. The other two homes we saw weren't even worth going beyond the front door. I loved the house and floor plan. Randal reminded me that there's always a chance that we could be there longer than a couple of years. He asked if I would still like it if we had to live there five years. I assured him I liked the house regardless.

Randal learned a long time back that where a man lives is in a house, but where a woman lives is in a home and it's her nest. Like my favorite bird, the Carolina Wren, who builds several nests for the female to choose from, Randal wanted to make sure I was going to be happy with this nest and then, he made the offer to buy. After all the paperwork was signed. It was end of September 2000 and we would be closing early November. We returned to Alabama to pack and say our goodbyes.

Before Bluebird Cove 4: What About Virginia?

Although we'd spent years saying, "One day we'll move to Tennessee," we never had a specific place in mind, so when we decided it was time to move from Alabama, we got out the maps to decide what areas of Tennessee would be options. Before we ever began making notes, Randal said, "What about Virginia?"

Looking back, I know think what an odd question that was. We call it Providence, but it was so out of character for Randal to wonder off the trodden path of routine thinking. My mind instantly went wild. I loved Virginia! I had been through Virginia many times when I lived in the South as a single girl, going back to Pennsylvania for visits. It was a beautiful drive through the mountain area and being a "city girl" when I was single, the I-95 route was exciting to me.

I was raised by my grandparents and knew them as "Mom" and "Daddy." He had been born in Virginia and I remembered him singing a line or two about "my old Viriginia" and "black-eyed susans" and those old-time gospel song clips now held my mind in fascination of what Virginia might hold for us. We had traveled through Virginia on travel trips and home-school history trips, so Randal knew he liked the area. We would always stop by the Capitol grounds in Richmond where the squirrels and pigeons will sit on your legs to eat. I always thought that was a little scene of how Heaven will be with the addition of lions and lambs, giraffes and elephants, etc.

Randal had been talking to somebody from the Charlottesville area only a couple weeks before, so we took our long list of what we desired to find in the area of where we wanted to be and went online to see what part of Virginia we might like to call our own. How quickly we transitioned from Tennessee to Virginia. It was definitely destiny.

We wanted an area that knew what vegetarian meant. We have been vegetarians since 1978 and in Alabama if we mentioned that, we were generally asked how we could just eat vegetables. Finding a place to eat out was a challenge, but fortunately we rarely eat out. However, it would be nice to have a multitude of choices if we did, and the Charlottesville area offered that.

We wanted lots of forests and areas of running water and organic choices and a community that didn't have the "big box" stores dominating the shopping choices. We dreamed of environmental and conservation organizations so we could volunteer and participate in activities, but most of all a climate that would allow me to be outdoors more with less heat, but no long snowy winters.

What resources the internet held for us to find out about air, water and land pollution qualities! There are forums for every topic under the sun for the day-to-day living experiences of people in an area. The online community can be so helpful when you have specific questions about something and it proved to be so for us, because we had many details we wanted to be certain of before making a trip to look at homes.

We had decided we wanted to find land and build so we could have a bigger and better "refuge" and more habitat for the wild things of the world, so our plan was to buy a home, move, find land, build and then begin to live our dream life.

Providence had other plans .....

Before Bluebird Cove 3: Lightning Strikes The Refuge

About a year and a half after beginning this internet business at our home we called "The Refuge," lightning struck the house and started a fire in the attic, which took us 20 minutes to discover since we kept attributing the smell of smoke to a tree that had fallen out back from lightening.

As I ran to call 911 we realized it took out the phone lines so we could not call. We had the "required fire extinguisher" from the shop which saved our home. Randal took it to the attic and with much prayer, it shot foam much farther than it was designed to do. He got the fire down to the attic floor and then ran to neighboring homes for a telephone to call the fire department. Running back in the pouring rain after going to three homes before finding somebody home, he hurried back to the attic to battle the fire again.

With my asthmatic history, it only took five seconds for me to be choking and have to leave the attic leaving behind the smaller fire extinguisher that I had taken up. I was totally helpless in this endeavor, which took its toll on my otherwise strong and determined nature. Feeling helpless was not my style and I was so rattled and horrified, I couldn't even think of one Scripture to stand on. I initially began running to get things out of the house until I realized that it was a futile effort to determine what was most important to me. Deciding between what I wanted to save and what I wanted to "allow" to burn.

I grabbed a Bible from the living room bookshelf where I stood frozen with fear and went to Psalm 91. I sat on the floor and read those words with as much Faith as I had in my entire being and then some that Jesus dumped in to fill the missing portion. I said those words knowing they were the Truth ... that the thoughts in my mind were lies. The fireman came and entered as I continued to read Psalm 91. They couldn't go into the attic without going back out for gas masks ... The same attic that Randal had spent so much time in spraying foam and praying for it to reach the back corner of the house from the small floored area where he stood.

He didn't have anything to cover his face and yet I hadn't heard him cough once. We were to discover upon review later, that the miracle that he wasn't coughing and choking up there wasn't the only one we would have. The fireman told us the house should've been "too far gone" in twenty minutes with that type of centrally-located hit of lightning. Stranger than that was the boxes we had stored in the attic. They were black from smoke and grey from extinguisher powder floating everywhere up there, but there was no evidence of the smell of smoke in the articles inside. We took them outside to see if we just couldn't smell and had others smell later.

Most of what we had was clothes and toys from Benjamin's childhood and books and magazines. He was an avid reader and his room never held all of his books, so we stored them in the attic. We had a hanging garment bag that held a wool coat and sweater. Only the sweater smelled of smoke, which State Farm paid to have dry cleaned.

The bolt hit our bedroom wall where I had a shadow box full of little items of memory and it was tossed across the 14' room with only one item broken. There was no water leaking although the roof had burned (not through), and no water damage because we asked the firemen if there was any way to put it out without water. Since Randal (through God) had done such a great job (he was asked to be part of the fire department), they were able to get it out without turning on the water for their hoses.

We had minor repairs and all telephones had to be replaced, but our computers were okay. State Farm was incredible and speedy through it all so we have been a great fan of them.

As we saw the painting being done, the roof being repaired and things looking like they were being "renewed" we got the idea that it might be a good time to put the house on the market and move to Tennessee. I think we both had been jolted into this idea and that we should seriously consider the good side of these fiery circumstances and what it could tell us.

Before Bluebird Cove 2: The Limitations Of Alabama

Since we were in Alabama, I was very limited in outdoor activities due to the vitiligo, so The Refuge was certainly a key to my sanity as we home-schooled and ran our business based on our lifestyle needs. There was something that darted around in my mind now and then that there was more than this life at The Refuge; there was something out there in the future that would take us to another place. When we visited Tennessee, I saw before me what seemed to be missing. The mountains, the streams and waterfalls, the immense amount of forests and a cooler climate. We tucked away in our hearts and minds that "one day we will move to Tennessee."

We continued to blend our business and home life in a method that worked for us, going from home business to office space when Randal joined full-time in 1988. Being gifted in counseling, he really took to helping people and spent most of his time teaching and doing individual consultations during our three-day work week. By the time Benjamin, our only child, turned 15, we were ready to go with a retail shop where he could study and work to earn more towards the upcoming purchase of a car.

Time flies when children are growing .... so they say. I never noticed it while it was happening. Benjamin was more strong-willed than I and we clashed through many years of family life, so when it was all over, and he left at 19 for a job in Oklahoma City, where he would live with his grandparents, we were left with our heads realing with all the memories of those years.

I keep thinking of God's command to Lot for them not to look back at the city. Looking back on parenting can be a heart-wrenching time of regrets and joys, but the devil will scream at you about all that you did "wrong." Again, we do not know that bad circumstances produce bad results, and Faith carries more weight than Reality.

A couple of months before Benjamin was scheduled to leave, during one of my mornings with the Lord, I felt we were to begin an internet business. You have to understand this didn't fit in any way with our lifestyle. We never had the internet in our home and never wavered on this decision. Technology held no fascination for me and the distractions that electronics puts on childhood is not what I consider of optimal quality. We had banned Atari, Game Boys, and such from the confines of our home and even television was regulated weekly, tracked by cardboard "tokens" with each of our initials on them so we each had three hours of this form of entertainment and that was it. Reading, playing games, maintaining our wildlife habitat, and learning made up our family time.

When I initially told Randal that I thought we were to have an internet business and that this may be the method that God uses for us to be able to move to Tennessee, his first question was, "What did you do with my wife?"

We purchased a computer and went online in December 1998. Benjamin left January 1, 1999, for Oklahoma City, and little did we know what a comfort technology would be to our hearts as we grieved over the loss of our son's presence in our home. Knowing we would not be in that home much longer, we quickly converted his room to an office, simply to avoid having it remind us that he was gone.

We had four (4) bedrooms so it wasn't a necessity, but it did provide each of us a room to work in and that proved to be of great value since we both dove into the internet project as we continued to work and serve our customers and clients at the retail location. It was good to be so busy.

Although Randal had sold computers, he had no programming background and certainly no idea how or where to begin to build a website, so we did what we normally do when we wanted to learn something. We purchased a book. "Making Money in Cyberspace," by Paul and Sarah Edwards. It became our Bible for business. Our daily direction of "this is the way, walk ye in it" as we went step-by-step developing an online business.

Since our business of 17 years included a network marketing group, we were bold enough after six months of development to say we would not renew our lease that expired in September 1999. We went full-time with the online venture, now and then thinking about Tennessee, but much too busy to make any plans for a move.

It was to be many years before we figured out that you never catch up in an internet business. You don't get to the end of your list because there are always a zillion new options for improvement and new projects. I often wonder when we would've taken the time to move to make plans for a move to Tennessee. We were just driven to "get it all right" and growing online, barely taking the time to have a personal life.

Before Bluebird Cove 1: The Beginning Of Our Journey

I've been talking about Bluebird Cove in the newsletters that I create and have had such a large amount of feedback from subscribers that I have been convinced to do a blog so my virtual visitors can spend more time here at Bluebird Cove.

Many of you landing on this blog will know nothing about me or Bluebird Cove, and even those virtual friends I call subscribers, only know the story from whichever point you entered in. Therefore, I thought it best to begin at the beginning, especially since I feel strongly led to call this blog Bluebird Cove Chronicles.

To understand more about Bluebird Cove, you might want to know a bit of background on our lives and previous homes, so I'll briefly fill you in on how we evolved to this place.

When we lived in suburbia we never named our homes. We always had a lot of people coming and going for meetings, food coops, herbal classes, etc. but our place was only known as The Watkins House.

In the mid-80's I felt this intense longing for a place in the woods. Having vitiligo since 1976, I was "banned" from the sunshine of Alabama where we lived, so trees were fast becoming very close friends, and there wasn't a tree on our lot at the time. After years of prayer, we found a 1-1/2 acre lot in Prattville, Alabama, and built a home. I named it "The Refuge" and so it was for all of us.

It didn't take long to fall in love with birds, wildflowers, wildlife, butterflies and eventually insects, of which I had been terrified all my life. We found out about the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program and got certified. A simple process of providing the four (4) necessary things wildlife needs: food, water, cover and a place to nest and reproduce.

Life seemed to have it all. In the midst of many personal, family, health and business issues that occurred the eleven (11) years we lived there, it was truly "the refuge" God had provided for me to know He was there beside us no matter what the circumstances of the days and years seemed to say.

We lived in Montgomery, Alabama, because of a job transfer from Albany, Georgia. I was raised in Pennsylvania and Randal was raised in Oklahoma. We met in Atlanta while we both worked for IBM. Me, the girl who would never marry, and Randal the guy who had been praying for whoever his wife might be since his teen years. Our first date was in November 1976 and we were married in Pennsylvania on April 9, 1977. After our honeymoon in Quebec City, we lived in Oklahoma City for four (4) years until we made a requested medical transfer to Albany, Georgia, hoping that the asthma and environmental illness (now called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) would improve since that's where I lived before we were married.

I didn't know back then that stress and emotions have more to do with health than most of us realize, but we had found some relief from herbs and supplements in the health issues we had and decided to stick with "natural" after the doctors had given up on me. Little did I know that choice would not only allow me to be an at-home mom, but would provide the ability for both of us to make our living at something we had a passion about, and allow us to design our work around our current lifestyle needs.

Helping others to learn more about natural health choices in the 80's was not at all common as it is today. In a world that provided little information on herbs and how to use them, we felt like pioneers.

Living in the woods and working to improve my health while improving our habitat was a delight and held the reward of knowing more about God by seeing Him in His Creation day to day. The incredible wonders of each and every bird, plant, insect and animal, told us that God is very much into details and that things that seem to look bad on the surface, may not be so in reality.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Temporary Satisfaction

by Donna L. Watkins

A. W. Tozer says, “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness.”

I’ve been reading a book given to me by my Auntie Carolyn. “Seasons Of My Heart,” written by Barbara Peretti. In it she details her marriage with Frank Peretti and the many struggles they had financially and spiritually along the way.

From 1972 to 1990 they prayed in most of their daily provisions and worked toward their dreams at what seemed like a slow pace, as they grew in character and wisdom and love for each other. During this time they lived in a remodeled chicken coop growing food and counting pennies. In 1990 Frank Peretti’s novels were bringing in overflowing blessings and they were finally able to build a home.

A dream come true for Barbara was to purchase some fine Queen Anne furniture, at about the same time as they added a Great Pyrenees puppy to the family since they could now afford food for another mouth. The beautiful cherry furniture brought great pleasure, as did the adorable puppy, Reuben.

She writes, “One day while vacuuming I was horrified to discover deep teeth marks in the legs of my cherished wing chairs. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Surely the sweet, bundle of fur that delightfully nuzzled our necks with his wet little doggy nose wouldn’t do such a thing! I had never found a shredded sock, not even a shoe with a hole in the sole. But though the disfiguring evidence was merely circumstantial, I had to rule Reuben the guilty party.

I have never replaced the scarred chair legs. Instead I allow the deep scratches to remind me that ordinary treasures are perishable; they cannot offer enduring enjoyment. The bright spring flowers come and go with the passing seasons, our furniture has since accumulated additional mars and scratches, even our puppy “has aged and his 148-pound frame is resting from a second knee surgery. The distinct pleasure each earthly thing brings to our lives is temporal; the joy it affords lasts but for a season.

Limitless joy, on the other hand, is found in God’s immeasurable bounty. The pearls of wisdom that do endure the test of time lie hidden in God’s Word. They are awaiting our discovery. Deep abiding peace comes when we apply God’s principles to our lives; and for those who accept Christ’s redeeming act of death on the cross, He extends the most valuable treasure of all - life eternal.”

Father, Your Word says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you besides.” When I look at all the things and stuff in my life, I realize that it has brought brief temporary pleasure. Only Your love and the eternal life You offer is permanent. Thank you for the many blessings You give me each day and for the wonders of Creation around us that shout glory to Your name. May I worship You for who You are and not for what You give to me. Thank you for lifting me up in the storms of life and giving me hope, peace and joy to choose from on the list of Your many provisions of shelter. Amen

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:

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article, originally published at, was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Shenandoah Valley - Frontier Culture Museum - Staunton, VA

We had a day over in the Shenandoah Valley. The Frontier Culture Museum has a free night every month in the summer and it's kinda like a trip back in time to walk around and see the homes displayed that represent those of our pioneer ancestors who came here from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany.

It was a special time for both Randal and I to think about how life has changed since our own forefathers made their way to America.

Randal is Scotch-Irish and I'm German-English so it was quite appropriate. Here's the link to the photo album.

Mud Puddles for Butterflies

Source: What Butterflies Need Besides Nectar by Naomi Mathews

There are certain minerals that some butterflies, such as swallowtails, sulfurs, and blues need that are not provided in a diet of nectar alone. These minerals are found in standing water, or mud puddles. On learning this, you may be inspired to dash right out into your garden and make a mud puddle or two so your butterflies can get their daily “mineral fix.” Not a bad idea! Just another healthful way to attract butterflies to your yard.

Quiet Stream
You have probably noticed butterflies drinking from almost anyplace they can find water. Maybe you’ve seen them fluttering around your drippy outdoor faucet, or checking out a water sprinkler that left a small puddle. In natural habitats they often drink from the edges of streams or beneath waterfalls. I found it remarkable that butterflies release the water they drink almost immediately after drinking it. Yet amazingly, they manage to absorb the minerals they need in the process.

There is yet another reason why butterflies--especially males of certain species--enjoy puddles. They love to congregate at puddles, much like men in many parts of the world enjoy gathering at Starbucks™ for a great cup of espresso! Can’t you just picture a flock of these colorful fellows perched around their favorite puddles, perhaps discussing the latest reports about the price of nectar and such? Or, are they maybe gloating about which female they just won for their mate? I’ll leave this up to your imagination.

There are certain minerals that some butterflies, such as swallowtails, sulfurs, and blues need that are not provided in a diet of nectar alone. These minerals are found in standing water, or mud puddles. On learning this, you may be inspired to dash right out into your garden and make a mud puddle or two so your butterflies can get their daily “mineral fix.”

Basking areas--what and where?

Gardeners should also provide areas where butterflies can bask when it is sunny and warm. This helps to warm their wings for flying. Basking areas can be made by interspersing several flat rocks in your flower beds. In rural areas, an old tree stump, a log, or a piece of driftwood will serve as a perfect basking spot.

Read the entire article.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Up-to-date Information on Avian Flu

Avian disease is in the spotlight with the link between viruses and birds. Organizations are keeping track whether wild birds are in any danger of being destroyed because of the panic over these bird-related viruses. Before you panic, please be sure to check out the sites online that are tracking this kind of information, not only for your own assurances, but to be able to be informed to tell others who may join the ranks of those wanting to destroy wild birds.

Cornell University is one organization where you can get up-to-date information on Avian Flu

ID Your North American Bird

This site has a radical search engine to identify birds of North America that differs from anything on the web. It's so accurate and fast that the Wild Bird Feeding Institute is using it to help people identify birds for Project Wildbird, their 3-year study on backyard feeding habits.

The search engine presents a visual interface to whatever field mark you select first. Each step narrows the search results to help locate the bird you saw. Try the bird search engine--it currently has over 800 birds in the database. ID Your North American Bird at This Site

Mud Puddles and Butterflies

There are certain minerals that some butterflies, such as swallowtails, sulfurs, and blues need that are not provided in a diet of nectar alone. These minerals are found in standing water, or mud puddles. On learning this, you may be inspired to dash right out into your garden and make a mud puddle or two so your butterflies can get their daily “mineral fix.” Read the entire article here

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Current Info on Avian Flu

Avian disease is in the spotlight with the link between viruses and birds. Organizations are keeping track whether wild birds are in any danger of being destroyed because of the panic over these bird-related viruses.

Before you panic, please be sure to check out the sites online that are tracking this kind of information, not only for your own assurances, but to be able to be informed to tell others who may join the ranks of those wanting to destroy wild birds.

Cornell University is one organization where you can get up-to-date information on Avian Flu.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

10 Steps To A Healthy Lawn

For years George Tyler blanketed his lawn with commercial fertilizers, believing the chemicals would compensate for the poor clay soils and construction backfill in the Bloomington, Minnesota, subdivision where he lived. Then Tyler, a sales engineer for an Internet services firm, discovered corn gluten meal, a by-product of the process that makes high-fructose corn syrup. Gluten, which is sold as cattle feed and an organic fertilizer, kills germinating weeds but doesn’t damage established turfgrass.

Tyler began applying the gluten to his lawn twice a year. Several summers later he went on a two-week vacation in the middle of a severe drought. When he returned he found he had become the envy of his hose-crazy neighborhood. “There were almost 100 homes in that subdivision,” he says. “When I came back from vacation, all of their lawns were burnt to a crisp. Mine was green - and it hadn’t been watered.”

Creating a truly healthy and full lawn is not as challenging as you might think - in fact, it may even make your life easier. Follow the 10 easy steps to a healthier lawn in the rest of this article on the Aubudon website.

Essential Oils Are Nature's Remedies

With the continual bombardment of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal contamination in our world, essential oils are a great benefit to help protect our bodies and homes from this onslaught of pathogens.

Essential oils are frequently referred to as the "life force" of plants. Unlike fatty oils, these "essential" oils are volatile, highly concentrated, substances extracted from flowers, leaves, stems, roots, seeds, bark, resin or fruit rinds. Only pure oils contain a full spectrum of compounds that cheap imitations simply cannot duplicate. Nature's Sunshine's 100% pure essential oils.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Utah and Idaho Photo Albums

These are the albums for before and after our visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. We saw some beautiful areas in Utah and Idaho. This trip was in September 2005. Utah and Idaho Photo Albums

Whose Fault Is It?

by Donna L. Watkins

I've done a lot of complaining over the years about what God has not done for me and how my prayers haven't been answered [the way I want them to be which generally allows only the "yes" option of response].

Chilidhoods are never perfect and we take on a lot of wrong belief systems and we "buy into a lot of lies" as my husband, Randal, says. The devil whispers something in our ear when life isn't quite what it should be .. and before we know it, we are believing that God just doesn't care about us.

Most of us would never say those words ... after all, we do know what the Bible says and Christians don't really believe that God doesn't care.

Not too long ago I dug deep inside some of my belief systems and realized that I just didn't really trust God. I grew up pretty independent and seemed to like being that way ... and I was often told, "Don't ask anybody for anything," so I kinda "made my own way" and felt like I could accomplish anything I truly wanted to do.

Like Frank Sinatra, I really liked living life MY WAY. I actually felt like I was "letting go and letting God" in many areas of my life, but in reality, I hadn't let go of anything unless I just couldn't find an answer .. and then I only let go until I came up with another idea to try harder.

The world is full of challenges, trials and tribulations and God is here for us. That's why we ask Jesus into our hearts ..... that's why we give our lives to Him. But do we really? I've found that I wanted a bit of a compromise situation. Kinda like the couple that gets married but signs a prenuptial agreement. Commitment?

Most of us can look back at many stubborn choices we've made in life and many times that we insisted we deserved to have our rights. Living sacrifice? Is that for real?

We have a "sign" hanging in our kitchen that says:

A Servant's Heart - The true test of a servant is if I act like one when I'm treated like one.

Hmmm.... in a world of advertising that promotes "what's in it for me" and television sitcoms bombarding us with anything but images of living the Christian life, it's hard to go back to what the Bible says about how we are to live. It almost seems impossible.

We've been deceived. God hasn't changed. Society has. We need to get over the past mistakes and imperfections of childhood and get to the roots of our belief systems and move onward. Change behaviors. Build character without digging your heels in.

I present my case that God isn't at fault. We are! If we gave our life to Jesus, we have no rights. He died for us to have victory over sin. Align yourself with the Word and begin tomorrow with a different outlook.

There's plenty to grumble about, but there's plenty to be joyful about also. I feel I have an obligation to smile and think happy thoughts ... after all Jesus died so that I could. We often are not as bad off as the world tells us we are if we just sink ourselves into Papa God's lap and trust Him to make us more Christlike. That's all we're left here for! So, we may as well get about the business of doing it.

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.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Seeing our national parks is something I'd like to make a project of. You know, getting a book or map of them and then checking them off one by one. But checklists aren't all they're cracked up to be ... so I avoid that idea.

Our visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton, in September 2005, was extra special because we met our son in Utah and enjoyed this trip with him. I hope you will feel like you've been there after viewing the photo album. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Greener Choices for a Better Planet

This website produced by Consumer Reports has lots of information on making green choices in Autos and Fuels, Appliances, Home & Garden, Electronics, Food and more. Get the scoop on the best brands and ideas on being green.

There's even allergy-free gardening tips. Just because you have asthma or allergies doesn't mean you can't enjoy the pleasures of gardening. In fact, there is a wide range of big, showy flowers, shrubs, and trees that won't make you wheeze, cry or sniffle. Learning what these are, along with some overall tips, will get you on your way to an allergy-free gardening experience.

Visit now and soak up the alternatives: Greener Choices at Consumer Reports

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Butterflies Are Beautiful

We've had lots of butterflies coming through lately. It's been such a blessing to me to see the rewards of gardening. These colorful and peaceful flyers are such an image of God's love to me. They show me daily how I should live.

Being content to float through life feeding here and there on natural food and God's Word always in my mind with a knowledge that life is all it should be ..... no matter what.

I posted a blog with quite a few butterfly photos from one morning's time outside. If you enjoy butterflies, you'll enjoy this blog about butterflies.

There are links to lots of info and ideas on how you can help butterflies, especially the Monarch whose habitat has been greatly challenged.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Today Is A New Beginning

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Sunflower With Bee
God has a plan for us that is greater than our thoughts or words can imagine or say. You must first get rid of yourself, because only you can hinder God’s plans for your life. If we believe that He loves us and has a plan for our lives and seek to see God in all that each day holds, we will be transformed.

Move beyond your mind and emotions, beyond the human strength and all the resources you can muster. Let inspiration and a belief in His good for you take you over completely and bring yourself out of the duldrums, the depression, the despair and into a new realm of the power of God operating in your life.

When you speak to God, our Father, do you simply rehearse the problems you have, the requests for life to be the way you imagine it? Or do you take what His Word says about you and put it into prayer and action? Believe in extravagant asking and God will be pleased to give you extravagant things, but you must know that our imaginations and desires are not always for our own good, so we must look for the extravagance in all the circumstances that come our way.

Not until we are through the battle or stormy clouds do we see the good of what we considered bad. For some, they never see it because it’s easy to become bitter and Romans 8:28 is a promise for those who love God and with that love, we cannot become bitter, we can only become better.

We lived in a wooded area and when the storms pass through they clear a lot of dead wood out of the trees. God allows storms in our lives to clear the dead wood out of our thoughts, actions and emotions, but many times we refuse to let go of it. Free will is a two-edged sword.

Look at your life right now and choose a circumstance that you can focus on. One that you consider bad. Seek God on what He is wanting you to learn from this and move forward to the next class.

When we pray over a bad situation, we have to seek His face on why He allowed this in our lives. What does He want to change in us so that we can be more Christlike and enjoy ourselves and others more?

The devil would tell us to just grumble, whine and beg away for mercy to a God who is not listening. God would have us to seek His face. Crawl up into His lap like a child with a “boo boo” and let Him make it okay for you. Many do not see our Father in this way because they weren't able to crawl into the lap of their earthly father, but that is the past. Let it go and take hold of the Truth and the Father you were given when you accepted Christ as your Savior. It doesn't matter what your past is, you now have a choice for today and the future on whether you will take a Good, Loving, Faithful and True Father or not. Call Him something that doesn't relate to your earthly dad and move on.

Take the time to study the Scriptures on how much God loves you. 1 John 3:1 in The Amplified Bible says, "See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown, bestowed on us,that we should be permitted to be named and called and counted the children of God!" I like the word lavished, it gives a sense of extravagance, richness, no matter what the cost (even the sacrifice of His own Son). Read the familiar Psalm 23 and take it to heart. Psalm 139 is awesome!


Father, help us to see who You really are, the love you really have for us and show us in each day. May the Holy Spirit remind us the moment we awake that You are calling us to spend time with you in Your Word and while we are in the world. May we seek You in the green spaces of this world, where Creation will show us more of your attributes and more of Your love. Guide us and hold us in Your arms revealing more and more in our minds of how much You love us. Amen.

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:

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article, originally published at, was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Monday, July 3, 2006

What Are You Saying?

by Donna L. Watkins

What we listen to affects our health. That could be radio and television or people around us. Some people and circumstances force us to listen to ranting and evil reports. We need to set boundaries on what we see and hear to protect our health.

Something that you may not be considering is what you say to yourself all day long. Many people rip themselves apart hour by hour with negative thoughts on what they should be doing, who they should be, how awful they are performing, how ugly they look, and so on. If you have these thoughts going on, you don’t need anybody to rant and argue since you’re dong such a great job of it all by yourself. Are you being cruel to yourself?

If you keep attacking yourself mentally, your body will soon agree and do the same. Autoimmune diseases (where the body attacks itself) are increasing at an amazing rate. Some of the “old” diseases are now being discovered to have autoimmune factors. Do an internet search on a disease name with the word autoimmune and see what you find.

Do you have a problem being merciful? I sure do! And it’s because I have a problem giving myself any mercy. It doesn’t come naturally, I have had to work at being easy on myself. When I remind myself of God’s mercy to me, I can be more merciful to myself and others and that is a major focus of my health program.

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul [mind, will and emotions], but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” Proverbs 11:17

Autoimmune diseases have also been linked to personalities that are driven. I certainly never needed any push or shove to get going. I was my own taskmaster and to keep my peace, joy and mercy, I have to focus on the pace of Jesus. He never rushed or hurried but got all his work done. I had to admit that I was finding my sufficiency in what I accomplished, not in who I am in Christ. What a rude awakening!

God made us for relationship. The curse made us have to work to eat, but it never took away God’s sole desire to have fellowship with us.

When I finally took my life from the hands of “tyranny of the urgent” I found that what my soul really longed for was more time with my Father. The hurry and scurry covered over my loss of that time but it certainly didn’t provide the same benefits. A job well done never matches up to a soul [mind, will and emotions] well satisfied.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 How much of our inner conversations have to do with “keeping up” with something or somebody? Is that envy?

No matter how much I had on my To Do list and how much I had checked off by the end of the day, it never stopped the “not enough” thoughts. Dumping guilt all over myself for not getting it all done. Not enough hours, not enough help. Funny how the overdoers see the people who have enough sense to pace their lives. Shall we consider the words ‘lazy,’ ‘unmotivated,’ ‘useless?’ OUCH! As I rushed about my day with an unending tirade of tasks that I assigned myself, I judged those around me who weren’t on the same racetrack.

"My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my guilt, and my bones grow weak." Psalm 31:10

All the while, Jesus was quietly waiting and seeking me to join Him at His pace of life. My pace was simply ungodly and I didn't see how it could change because it required ME to change, not others. It was hard to see and admit that I was the one heaping these burdens upon myself. The Bible told me to be anxious about nothing and to be still and know God and I did not see how so I continued in rebellion against those commands.

"Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him." Psalm 32:10

You might want to read another article titled, “Walking Like Jesus.”

To be healthy, we are going to have to get our thought life healthy. It’s a real major makeover for sure, but you can do it. Ask God to show you a Scripture [because the Word has power] that you can take to heart, memorize it and use it to replace those awful driving thoughts that ruin our lifestyles and health.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul [mind, will and emotions] and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

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Sunday, July 2, 2006

Do Homemade Cleaning Products Work?

The results are in! Homemade cleaners equal and even out perform commercial household cleaning products!

Here's a mother and daughter who spent two weeks on a science project for school to find out which household cleaners work best. We did three tests: one with window cleaners, one with carpet cleaners, and one with laundry stain removers.

Read about the results.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Make Your Own Cleaning, Health, Bath and Beauty Products

Essential oil kits allow you to make your own safe non-chemical home and beauty products. Making your home less toxic for yourself, children and pets. What a fun family project and what a lesson in using safe products in the home.

Health, Home and Beauty Essential Oil Kit

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