Thursday, November 30, 2006

How to Make Christmas Wreaths for the Birds

Wreaths are used traditionally to decorate your home during the holiday season, but how rewarding it is to provide for wildlife that visit your home looking for food. One of our holiday traditions was to string popcorn, peanuts and raisins to decorate outdoor evergreens for the wildlife. It was a fun evening doing it and a delight to watch it being enjoyed.

Here's a site that gives you instructions to make a special wreath that, when hung outside, will attract and delight hungry birds: Wreaths For The Birds

Last year our son sent us a wreath for our door as a gift and we discovered that wrens were roosting in it overnight, so after the holidays we moved it to a better location on the porch and left it there till Spring at which time the wrens left and the finches took it over and built a nest in the center. What a delight!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Plastic Water Bottles & Unsafe Water

According to the Container Recycling Institute, an estimated 8 in 10, or 22 billion single-serving plastic water bottles won't make it into the recycling bin this year, but instead will end up in a landfill.

What's more, bottled water isn't necessarily safer than tap water. Bottled-water companies aren't required to disinfect or test for parasites such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia, a requirement for city tap water.

Read Consumer Reports complete bottled water report.
Read about Fertilizes and Medications In Bottled Water.
For more information on the state of plastics recycling, and how you can help, here's a website.

Jane Goodall and Chimpanzees

Jane Goodall is a legend as far as making a difference for animals, people and the environment. She is the world's foremost authority on chimpanzees. I've been inspired by her books so we support her organizations.

We even have an adopted chimp called Nani. I put her photo in a frame with the information about her on the other side and enjoy seeing it. There's not much I can buy for myself that compares to the thrill I get out of doing things like this.

Animal Plant has dedicated this section of their site to provide information about her. There's a lot to discover there in the realm of wildlife and the environment. Visit the site

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Have You Lost A Pet?

Maybe this website will be of comfort to them. My Auntie buried a beloved cat a short while ago and she sent me the link to this place. The site offers a place to post photos, send ecards, read poems and tributes, and even a message board to communicate with others. This may be a comforting site for those who have a recent loss or one that they've not been able to move beyond. Here's the website

Wildlife Mothers

We humans tend to think a mother's care is virtually essential to an infant's survival. Consequently, it may surprise us to learn that, among wild animals, most mothers shun their young.

It is true: 99 percent of the world's million or so animal species that have been identified simply lay their eggs or bear their babies and then move on. However, for the 1 percent that do tend their young, parenting is no picnic.

For example, an opossum may have more than a dozen hungry mouths to feed. A hen mallard and her brood live in constant danger from roving predators. And among certain spiders, the mother may wind up being eaten by her own offspring.

Still, despite popular ideas about maternal love, the actions of even the most self-sacrificing wildlife mother are suspect: the elephant that guards her dead calf, the red-winged blackbird that feigns injury to distract a predator. Such scenarios are really the result of instincts generally programmed to preserve the species. Read the article

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rest and Trust

by Donna L. Watkins

In the winter birds have to be especially alert to shadows from the sky (hawks) because they are so visible on the many trees and bushes that are now leafless.

This Blue Jay seems to be especially bold resting on the tree in front of our house. Being in a wooded area, we see quite a few hawks, and we also see birds continually looking upward to be alert to danger.

This bird seemed to be resting and trusting that he was just fine. It gave me a picture of how we are to be. Knowing our Heavenly Father will take care of us no matter what the dangers are around us.

The world is so big on making things happen. Everybody seems to be joining the rat race to the world's definition of success. Where is the stillness that the Bible talks about Christians having? Where is great peace and joy? We are driven to do more and more even in areas where we should be trusting God to work.

Has prayer become obsolete? Totally useless because it doesn't meet the time factors of our project deadlines? Who set the deadlines? I'm always intrigued with the pace of Jesus. He had so much to accomplish on His short stay on earth and yet He never hurried. Never scurried even in the face of death. Yes, He was God and man, but on earth He was operating as man. He had only His faith in His Father to rely on. His timing was not even the world's timing back then. Many thought He had to come quickly, but rather than speed, He chose Faith to overcome even death.

We must learn to place our trust in God. He has promised to be with us at all times, to make our paths straight and to make a way through all of our mountains of troubles. In His name we pray and in Him we trust to accomplish what we cannot and should not.

He knows the beginning and the end. We can place our confidence in the One who never fails. We may look back and think He has failed, but if we see the whole picture, it may be that we messed too much with the situation. Sometimes doing hands are best put to rest as praying hands, which can truly accomplish so much more than any of us can ever imagine.

Trusting in Him. This is where God wants our hearts to be. To obey because of the wisdom gained from faith in Him and His Word. How much more can we accomplish in life if we trust and obey our Heavenly Papa. This doesn't mean we don't move at all and expect everything to just happen around us. God will use us on this earth, but we must listen to find out His way of doing it. Don't go from one extreme to the other of rushing in to do it all, to sitting and doing nothing.

Right now, push the PAUSE button on your life. Find a place of stillness and pour out all your troubles and projects and plans before the Father and allow Him to speak in a still small voice. He promises to direct your paths and Ps. 84:11 says, "Not one good thing has the Lord withheld from me." Believe in this Father, unlike your earthly father who made human mistakes. Don't confuse Our Father with any father on earth. This is The Father that you've always wanted to have. Run to Him and put your life into His hands and rest from your weary labor and burdens.

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.

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Comfort Food, Cleansing and Weight Loss

Now that we're through Thanksgiving, we can challenge ourselves to analyze our relationship to food before December arrives. Obesity in America is an epidemic and I believe it's because of the stressful lifestyle and fast pace we have set for ourselves. The bar to "measure up" has been raised higher and higher till nobody ever truly makes it over, but nobody notices that since they are trying to measure up in their own life.

Food has become a comfort zone for many. It's the basis of life from the day we are born and we associated needs being met by our mouths being filled. Eating and drinking should be done to maintain the body, but glandular malfunction can easily cause addiction to the behavior. Dieter's Cleanse may help to get the focus changed.

We must learn to eat and drink to the glory of God. Food is what tempted Adam and Eve to sin and it was also through eating that the devil sought to tempt our Lord in challenging Him to turn the stones into bread while He fasted 40 days in the wilderness. (Luke 4:3)

Those of us who are not overweight are not released from responsibility. I had to give up chocolate over 8 years ago because I couldn't have it now and then. It was like alcohol is to an alcoholic. If I had any chocolate I would go on a binge, making myself sick and guilt-ridden because our home only held nutritious foods and this was not on the approved list. I found myself eating it in the closet and realized that this food had control of part of my life and that was not acceptable.

I had tried everything on my own to quit the habit, but it wasn't until I told the Lord I could not do this and asked Him to do it for me that I had victory. I told Him that if He would take away the craving, I would forever say "no" to chocolate. I made that vow and hung in there for the 2-3 weeks saying "no" till it got out of the physical body realm and into the spiritual. After that the cravings and fascination with chocolate was gone. That was in November 1998.

Let me challenge you to obey what you are hearing the Lord say in relation to diet. It will bring you much peace and joy as you gain control over the Enemy's temptations in your life.

Before the hustle and bustle of the Season gets you stressed out and blows your immune system, plan now on how you will simplify what Christmas means for your family. Have a family meeting and decide what you want December to be in your home and your lives. I wrote a couple of article years back that may give you some ideas:

A Different Kind of Christmas
Finding Stillness During The Holidays

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pocahontas State Park, VA & River Falls Park, Weldon, NC

We had an overnight getaway over the holiday weekend. We stopped at Pocahontas State Park here in Virginia and also River Falls Park in Weldon, NC.

The photo is from Weldon, NC. Water brings such peace to the souls of those who sit by it. It seems to absorb every care you have and moves them downstream. Reflections of earth and sky on the surface provide an everchanging beauty of their own.

The pretty weather we had made our outdoor time special since I'm not very fond of the cold. It's nice to get away now and then to the woods ... the stillness reminds me that there are still quiet places in our world where you can hear God's footsteps nearby.

View photo album: Pocahontas State Park & River Falls Park in Weldon, NC

Friday, November 24, 2006

Urban Birds

Is it possible that observing a pigeon with curious and open eyes could change our world or a child's future?

As kids we begin life with a natural affinity for science and nature, but as we grow older we stop watching busy ants on sidewalks and forget to notice the House Sparrows at our feet in parking lots.

While we were in Helsinki, Finland, on a Baltic Cruise, the urban pigeons enjoyed resting in many unusual spots that were in easy view of passersby. I was initially attracted to the sculpture before noticing the pigeons on it.

Urban Bird Studies, a program of Cornell, provides accessible opportunities for bird watching and local environmental awareness. Participants observe birds in city streets and on window ledges, as well as in green parks and community gardens.

You can become part of this project and rediscover natural life in the city. Regain some of that childlike wonder about life. Find out more.

Parents and Teachers!
There's a lot of resources available from Cornell to stimulate ideas on how to make this happen for your kids or students. Visit their site to find them.

Would you like to know how to celebrate birds in your neighborhood? There's an Urban Birds Workshop available and it's free at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Did You Know Some Insects Hear?

From Creation Moments

All insects that hear, except one, have two ears. Some insects have ears on their legs, thorax, or abdomen. However, they all follow the same principle. Their ears are separated so that they can locate the source of the sound - except in one insect.

Scientists always thought the preying mantis was deaf. The 1,700 species of mantises (as in praying mantis like the photo of one in our garden) have no structure that looks like an ear.

Only after a long process of detailed study and testing did scientists finally discover that the mantis can hear. Further investigation finally led to the discovery of one of the most bizarre methods of hearing anywhere in the animal kingdom.

The mantis's hearing organ is difficult to call an ear. Unlike any other insect, the mantis has only one hearing organ, located in a groove underneath its thorax. The teardrop-shaped groove has a thinner cuticle than other parts of the body. Beneath the cuticle there is a relatively large air sac on each side of the groove. These sacs are connected to the insect's respiratory system. Near the top of the sac are the nerves that carry the sensation of sound to the nervous system.

Scientists say that this hearing organ senses ultrasonic frequencies. When researchers played a bat-like sound to a mantis in flight, it immediately took an evasive flight path to escape the bat it thought it heard.

Source: Creation Moments

Monday, November 20, 2006

How to Trim Your Cat's Nails

Learn to cut your cat's nails. You will have a much happier and calmer pet. It is extremely painful and inhumane to declaw . This How-To article will help you with photos and instructions on how to cut your cat's nails.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Did You Know? Nature Facts

Giraffes can lick their own eyes.

A duck can't walk without bobbing its head.

A rainbow can only be seen in the morning or late afternoon.

Frogs can't swallow with their eyes open.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Heartworms Gone With Herbal Program

I have a friend who works with dogs on heartworm programs. She's a hero to me! This is one of the many similar emails she gets from her clients.

"Hi Robin, I know you don't remember me but I contacted you about a year ago regarding my dog, Dakota, who was diagnosed with heartworms. We put her on the Nature's Sunshine Products you recommended. My wife and I took her to the vet tonight and were hoping for the best but expecting the worse. We told the vet that we were using natural herbs to treat the heatworms. She was polite but we both caught the look of "you have to be kidding me." She came back and told us that Dakota's blood test came back negative and that she was heartworm free. The vet asked what we gave Dakota and we told her. She wanted me to call her with the more detailed information. Just thought you would like to know. Thanks again, Tom N."

If you know somebody with a heartworm dog, send them this story. There's an email option at the bottom of the post. Robin's site will give details on the heartworm program. There is a prevention program also. Robin will be happy to work with your dog. She's helped over a thousand dogs and loves animals. There are alternatives to all the drugs and chemicals if you get informed of the options.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What Is Your Reflection?

by Donna L. Watkins

As I was seeking God on healing and in repentance for my attitudes, He showed me that Squeek (aka Kitty Girl), our cat, is a reflection of me.

This is the cat that "appeared" at our window two weeks after my favorite cat died at 20 years of age. This cat looked just like Princess and I dropped the phone when I saw her while talking to my husband. I ran outside to look at her just as she disappeared into the woods.

I thought instantly that God had brought Princess back to me. She had been so much comfort to me through the death of both of my parents in less than six months and the turmoil of home-schooling an ADHD strong-willed child.

God should be enough during these times, but you'd like to have something "tangible" at these weak and hurting seasons of life. Something to cuddle with. Princess' purrs and unconditional love allowed me to see God's love for me in a tangible way and now that she was gone, there was just more loss in my life.

The small black kitty returned again the next day. I began putting out cat food and soon discovered this was a feral cat. A cat that hadn't had any contact with humans and didn't want any. For two years I fed and enjoyed her from afar. I wonder if that was my relationship with the Lord at that time. He seemed so far away and yet He fed me with His Word and I knew He was there for me.

Like God tries to do with us, I drew the kitty closer to me. I would place the food closer and closer to the sliding glass door on the porch and finally she would let me rub her head and eventually even sit inside the patio door on a rug. This process took years. How often does our process of getting close to God seem to take forever? We've got human instincts that tell us not to trust. His patience is everlasting and He continues to feed us day by day until we believe He is everything to us.

She was a challenge for me. A goal, a project, a desire, and it stirred determination in me to win her over. We are God's desire and He is always working at winning us over to His realm ... to the realm of Kingdom thinking. At one point I thought I'd lost Kitty Girl - that's what we called her since we didn't want to give her an official name since she wasn't ours. We had gone on a trip and when I returned she did not show up for food. It was a very troublesome time for me since our son was now grown up (19) and had moved to Oklahoma to live with his grandparents. I had put a lot of emotions in this relationship with Kitty Girl and now it appeared she was gone.

God used that period of time to teach me so many things and it was the only time in my life that I felt Faith so heavy within and upon me that I could believe for anything. I wrote about that in an article called, Jairus' Daughter and Kitty Girl.

Today I was reminded of it again. "Only Believe!" Those two words keep coming up in my life. How powerful are those Words? Those words have challenged me for so long. That's all Jesus required when He walked about to heal and restore. All that was needed was belief ... faith ... believing power that flipped the switch to what we saw in the physical realm and what was real in the spiritual realm. How dark life is at times when we can't imagine where that switch is, like walking in the dark to find the switch for the light that will take away the fears that we have in the dark.

Kitty Girl became Squeek because that's what she does when I pick her up. She is not fond of being held. It's obvious she's used to having things her own way and likes life just like that. She doesn't even beg for food. I feed her once a day in the morning and if I forget she never comes and begs. She may stand in the kitchen no where near her dish just to be in view, or she may stand at the door and squeak to go out since her instincts still tell her that she can manage feeding herself if we just open the door to the prey.

I always saw Squeek as God's gift to me. A special present at a time in my life when I needed a little black cat and after the Jarius' daughter sermon and experience, I saw her as God's love for me. The only down side to it all is that she's not a cuddle kitty. She's feral so she's still a bit fearful even after all these years of seeing only good come from our hands. She's not people-oriented. I sometimes tell her how selfish she is not to share her wonderful cuddly body with us.

Are we feral too? Sometimes I feel that I stand so far away from God's loving arms. I don't allow Him to wrap me up and cuddle me. I like being in control. I like thinking I can handle it all. Many times I am so wrapped up in my own troubles that I'm not people-oriented. Our human rat race has promoted self-reliance and independence. We like to believe we can handle it all. Don't show any weakness or vulnerability. Don't ask for help when God could have our answer nearby. We are to the The Body of Christ to each other, sharing gifts and strengths. Have we become stone pillars? We think we can support all that hovers over us until something breaks and we feel ourselves begin to crumble. Then we want God to pick up the pieces and make us whole again.

I see Squeek as a gift from God and a token of His love ..... but I also see that she's the image of who I am. So prideful to think that I can provide for myself. How often does begging inhabit my prayers? Do I spend more time trying to figure out a way to fix my problems myself .... or do I stand on the Word and ask God to purify me that I might receive all that He has for me. Am I willing to cry out? Can I humble myself and trust in Him to hold me close and make all things well. Can I trust Him through the storms of life?

When a storm brews, Squeek gets really nervous. I try to hold her and that's not safe and secure for her. She runs to hide under the chest of drawers in the bedroom. Her sense of security doesn't rely on somebody to take care of her .... she find a place to hide and hopes it will all be okay. Where do we run in the storms of life? How do we react to storms and wind and rain and lightning and thunder? Do we allow God to hold us until the storm passes by?

Psalm 107:28-31
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!


God, I am crying out for your help. I am human and cannot handle all the troubles and storms of my life. They are like waves threatening to wash me out to sea. Forgive me for my pride and independence, for my stubborness and lack of love for others. Help me to see others as part of Your Body available to be Your hands and feet and arms. I humble myself before you asking for you to wash out all that is evil within me and fill me with Your love, faith, trust and healing power so that I may go forth as a messenger of your love, so others will ONLY BELIEVE that You are always there to provide and cuddle us. Thank you, Father, for your patient and persistent love. 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:

© 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:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holiday Cleansing and Weight Loss

It's the time of the year for both. With all the junk food and holiday treats consumed, many people begin thinking about a cleanse before the season hits. Seems to make sense to lose a few pounds before clothes get snug. :-)

The Dieter's Cleanse is a great combination of cleansing and weight loss formulas. Cleansing is the best first step to any weight management program, but if I just want to do a cleanse I choose between these two: Clean Start and Chinese Tiao He Cleanse

These links are to The Herbs Place since they sell Nature's Sunshine Products at wholesale prices.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Games to Play With Your Dog

People who regularly play with their dog develop understanding, respect and communication with their dog. Games are activities you do with your dog that require the two of you to communicate and work together in some way. Playing games with your dog is really good for your relationship. While dogs are not humans in fur suits they are social creatures and playing is an important element in developing social relationships. Here's a site with lots of ideas and links to more.

Birds, Berries and Trusting God

While I was on the porch earlier this week, I watched a Northern Mockingbird enjoy the buffet of our wildlife gardening. He began with the pyracantha bushes eating orange berries there, and hopped to the Beautyberry bush for purple berries, and then to the Winterberries for some red berries where you see him in this photo.

What a delight it must be to be able to wake up each day trusting in God to provide all you need. Yes, there may be some challenges and fears to face, but these too shall pass away and not be worried over upon rising the following morning.

It gives new meaning to a sunrise .... reminding me that each day we see one, we should remember that the Son rises within us calling us to peace, joy and contentment in Him. I've been very mindful of things I'm grateful for with Thanksgiving approaching. There's great peace in spending time making your blessings list. Certainly more fun than compiling the "to do" list.

Google to Convert Headquarters to Solar Power

Google Inc. is converting its renowned headquarters to run partly on solar power, hoping to set an example for corporate America.

The Internet search leader announced what is believed to be the largest solar project undertaken by a U.S. company during a solar energy conference in Silicon Valley on Monday. Google believes the sun eventually can deliver as much as 30 percent of the power at its 1-million-square-foot campus in Mountain View — a suburb about 35 miles south of San Francisco.

Get more information

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How to Make Your Christmas Pet-Safe

Christmas trees pose all sorts of hidden dangers for dogs and cats. Learn how to minimize the risks on this eHow article.

Christmas is celebrated all over the world, and not just by humans. Ornaments made from pet toys can be hung on the tree. This eHow site has a very simple project you can do to let your pets know that they are part of the family, too.

Having Pets In Childhood May Reduce Allergies

Having companion animals in the home may actually help to reduce allergies, according to new research. The nine-year study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, investigated the respiratory health of nearly 10,000 adults in relation to their lifelong history of having companion animals in their homes.

Previous studies have indicated that exposure to cats and dogs in early childhood may make one less likely to develop asthma and allergies later in life. This study added to this evidence, noting that pet owners had significantly lower incidences of allergies - by over 30% - than those who had no pet.

Source: Healthy Pet Newsletter

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't Purchase Puppy Mill Puppies For Gifts

Christmas is not the time to give an animal as a gift unless all things have been considered beforehand and the last place to buy a puppy is at a store that gets them from puppy mills. Not only because of the cruelty of it all, but because the puppies are not healthy. How could they be when females are bred simply to produce litter after litter of pups while they live in a small caged area with rare moments of individual attention, if any.

Wait till after the holidays and get a dog from the shelter to give it a truly Happy New Year. The timing will be better to introduce a new animal to a home outside of the holiday rush-rush. Read why you should not give pets as gifts.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Be A Millionaire

Many people think that the rich were born into money, inherited it, or got lucky. The book, "The Millionaire Mind," by Thomas Stanley reports that 70 percent of millionaires have their shoes resoled rather than buying new ones. 71 percent make out a list before going shopping. Sounds to me like millionaires are made by being frugal and smart with your money.

Even the rich need a purpose in life, so most of them continue to work or give back to society in some way. When asked what led them to the work they chose, 81 percent said they chose a job that "allowed them to use their abilities." It's okay to do what you enjoy doing for work. You will do a better job working in a realm you love and that will lead to wealth in one way or another.

But being wealthy doesn't stop them from thinking frugally. 57 percent adjust the indoor air conditioner temperature setting during the summer to save energy and 49 percent use coupons for groceries and buy household supplies at warehouse stores. When buying a home, 65 percent take plenty of time to find the best deal, 79 percent research recent home prices near homes they are interested in, and 86 percent never pay the initial asking price. So, it's not cheap to want a deal.

These results seem to indicate monetary success comes more from a person's disciplined spending habits, than just the desire to achieve wealth. Matter of fact, a desire to appear wealthy can keep a person from making wise choices and might present an inability to exercise the discipline needed in making them.

More Tips and Articles on Finances

Friday, November 10, 2006

Don't Waste What You Own

Our current culture seems to think of buying before thinking about other options. It's so easy to waste resources when so much is being made into disposable products. It gives this generation a disposable mindset.

Here's an article that gives you some thoughts on how to save money. Before you buy anything, you may want to consider if there are other, less material-intensive ways to meet your needs.

While some of these ideas in this article are obvious, they're all worth a mention: Read the entire article.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Essential Oils in Well-Known Cancer Treatment Center

Imagine this: a bubble bath that improves your memory a kitchen cleaner that wards off nausea and energizes you a scented handkerchief that calms your jangled nerves.

Usually, people from throughout the world come for treatment to Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the country's top hospitals for cancer care. So you probably wouldn't associate something alternative like aromatherapy with a internationally known cancer facility, especially when the world is so filled with skeptics.

Learn the uses, healing properties and how-tos of using aromatherapy to heal and get stress out of your life, courtesy of one of the world's best known cancer centers. Read the entire article.

What About Quality and Purity
Best Place to Shop for Essential Oils & Accessories
Tell Me About Essential Oils
Essential Oil Recipes

Thanksgiving Holiday Tips For Pets

No Turkey Bones For Dogs or Cats!

On the day following Thanksgiving veterinarians will tell you that the most common calls are from concerned from pet owners inquiring about diarrhea with blood in it, vomiting, or a pet's lack of appetite. These calls are all due to a pet getting turkey bones out of the garbage, a pet stealing turkey bones off the counter, or a well meaning pet lover giving a pet a turkey bone. Read more

Thanksgiving Pet Care

Pet care expert, magazine columnist, radio and television pet care personality, Charlotte Reed offers Thanksgiving pet care tips that will ensure a happy holiday for you and your pet.

No Bread Dough!

Your pet could require surgery like the dog in this article.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Entertaining The Cat and Bluebirds

It's a bit cold for Squeek to spend her days on the screened porch, so she now spends time at the windows wildlife watching with me. She especially likes the door to the deck since we have squirrels that entertain her while they look around for peanuts we toss out there. What won't we pet owners will do to entertain our pets in winter?

We also have a clay dish out there with mealworms for the birds and it attracts bluebirds. I got a series of photos of Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird with a conversation titled in since there was a turtle in the dish with the mealworms to provide entertaining dialogue. The photo story begins here. Click the double arrows to the right to continue. Please add your own comments or captions. I love reading them!

I was talking on the phone about a week ago as our cat was walking through the kitchen. At the moment she was passing the area of the counter where the toaster sits, it popped up with my English muffin. She popped up higher than the muffin and then hit the ground with all fours scratching away on the vinyl as she tried to race out of the kitchen. She was obviously startled but it was hard to be sympathetic while I was having a really good laugh. We need a web cam installed for such moments.

Psalm 91 Protection

by Donna L. Watkins
Have you ever read Psalm 91, or many others, and asked the question, "God, why isn't this happening in my life?" "Why are You not doing this for me?" "Where are Your promises being fulfilled in my day to day living?"

I have loved the words and promises of Psalm 91. In the Spring of 2000, when we had lightning strike under the eaves of our house and start a fire in the attic, blowing out the telephones at the same time, I ran around trying to grab things to take out of the house. After two trips, I realized it was futile. Randal was in the attic using a fire extinguisher to get the flames off the roof enough so he could run to a neighbor to call 911, hoping that the whole neighborhood hadn't been wiped out of phone service.

Having had asthma for many years, I couldn't even get to the top of the pull-down stairs to help without choking. Being a "take charge" kind of person, I felt totally useless and after those two trips, I realized that this was a situation that was way beyond my power. I thought of Psalm 91 but in the fear of the situation, I could not remember a line of it.

I went to the bookcase to take off the nearest Bible in the house and turned to Psalm 91, sat down on the floor and read it out loud in Faith. Randal came in after running to several houses till he found a phone, and went back into the attic to use the fire extinguisher again which seemed to be bottomless. The firemen came and did their thing and offered Randal a job. They couldn't go into the attic without their oxygen masks and Randal had been up there the whole time without anything at all.

The circumstances and events of that day created many incredible thoughts about how things turned out and what could have happened ... but didn't. They had told us that normally that kind of a fire would be totally out of control in 15-20 minutes. We had heard the crack like it had hit the house but had heard those sounds before with lightning hitting the trees in our woods, so even though Randal kept saying he smelled smoke, I kept saying I smelled nothing ... until 15 minutes later when it came through the vent nearby.

I ran for the fire extinguisher, which we happened to have brought home from the retail store, and Randal pulled down the stairs to the attic and took it up there. The flames were to the roof and the distance from the floored area of the attic was too far for the range of the spray .... but it reached there anyway.

The most amazing thing? The insurance company told us they had a method to "bomb" the attic to take out all of the smoke smell from everything stored up there. It was a chemical and we did not feel good about it, so we took a couple of boxes down to see how bad it was.

There was no smell of smoke in the baby clothes or books! I instantly thought of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out of the fire with "no smell of fire on them."

Since then I have memorized Psalm 91 and kept it nearby on index cards and marked in my Bible, but time fades memories and there have been many times when I've read that and said, "Why isn't this working for us now? Life seems to be falling apart ... where are You?"

God is where He always is. Waiting to help when we're ready to move His hand in Faith and Belief. There's often an "if you" clause in the promises and I think that's where we really miss it. We have our part of the sanctification contract, and we tend to not notice our part, while we complain that God is not keeping His Word.

If the Word isn't working .... it's because we haven't punched in the access code. Don't let the devil whisper in your ear lies about our Heavenly Father. Believe the Word and make His Truth happen in your life. Find out what you're not doing. Even if somebody transfers a million dollars into your checking account, you are going to have to write a check to get it out. Move forward! Find out where you're "dropping the ball" and get back in the winners' circle.

View Psalm 91.

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© 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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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Hospitals Serving Organic Food

Hospitals are serving all-natural all-organic foods in their cafeterias to satisfy not only their mission to promote health but the appetites of visitors and workers who rave about the fresh fruit smoothies, wild salmon, and homemade pies with antioxidant-rich dried cherries.

Not only does the organic food taste great, but the hospitals' budgets are benefiting, because more people are buying the food. No longer does the cafeteria staff worry about which patient needs low-salt and which needs low-fat. Everybody gets the same healthy, lean, and tasty food. In just a year one hospital rid its menu of all trans fats and major additives. Read entire article

What Do Stools Tell Us?

From your stool you may be able to get clues about your diet, your gastrointestinal health, and even whether your stress, anger, or anxiety levels are too high. Stools can reveal a lot about your health. Find out what your stool can tell you.

Are We Like Play Dough?

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk

A few months back our pastor did a sermon about being moldable and shaped by God. That we need to ask God to shape us and make us as He wants us to be and that we are pliable and willing to be molded.

At the end of the sermon, he had piles of homemade play dough at the front of the church and we all went forward to get a piece with a little plastic baggie so we could have it as a reminder to pray to be shaped like Christ.

I took mine home and kept it on the kitchen counter and several times a day I would get it out and "play" with it and pray that God would shape me into His image. It was a nice meditation break as I went about my work and house duties. It stayed soft and pliable as I worked it each day and added a few drops of water now and then to keep it soft (reminded me of how God adds Living Water to our lives as we spend time with Him).

One thing I noticed was that while I was doing this I had more faith in what God was doing in my life. I have always been a person with high expectations. More so for myself even than anybody else around me, although I'm sure they might see that differently. It seems no matter how much I accomplish I am always expecting more and rarely appreciating what I have already done.

Working with this small piece of dough made me realize that I'm such a tiny thing in the great scheme of the world and no matter what I do or accomplish, it's nothing compared to resting in the glory of the Father and focusing on a desire to be more like Jesus.

There must've been a day when we were expecting company and I decided to clear the kitchen counters of any unnecessary things, and that included the little bag of dough. It got put into a kitchen drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks my house has to get the Good Housekeeping seal of approval before anybody can step inside the front door? I like what a neighbor once said to my husband when he went next door to help her husband do something. It was an impromptu thing so there was no time for them to "pick up," so when he arrived, she welcomed him into a messy house and said," We live here so the rooms will look like we do." I like that!

So what happened when the dough didn't get any shaping or water to keep it pliable and soft? It dried up. When I found it, it was as hard as a rock. It had not been watered and pressed in with the Word, so it just turned to stone. Although it 's in a round flattened shape a bit larger than a quarter, I can't even break it. It's rough all over and on one end you can see mold dried into the dough.

Looking at it reminded me of what we become when we don't spend time in the Word with our Heavenly Papa and let Him water us with His Word of Life. We become hard as rocks, rough and not good for much of anything. No longer useful or pliable - always wanting our own way and not His will.

I hope I will allow my "sculpture" to remain in the kitchen to remind me of what I will become if I don't spend time with my Creator every day. It would be easy to do other things in the mornings rather than spend time in the Word. If I miss one day, it always turns into more, but it doesn't take too many to discover that I am getting hard and rough and moldy without Living Water to nourish and feed my soul.

Father, I come to You asking You to mold and shape me. Help me to be pliable to Your will and desires for my life. Remind me to seek Your face each day and give me strength and determination not to stray from spending time with You. Show me even now a place where I can choose to meet with You each day. A place that I will not be able to pass without knowing that You are there waiting for me. A place where a simple devotion book and my Bible will remind me that You have much to show me. Mold and shape me to be more like You and to see circumstances from Your perspective, and when I cannot do that, stir up my faith that I may trust in You. 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:

© 2000-2007 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, November 6, 2006

Why Should I Cleanse?

Millions of us suffer from disease, sickness and pain because we simply don't know this truth about our own health: our bodies are not properly eliminating poisons and environmental toxins. The colon's job is to hold waste before it is evacuated from the body and to reabsorb water from the waste.

Years of poor eating habits, low-fiber diets, sedentary living and other lifestyle choices can slow the digestive processes. If waste sits in the colon too long, toxins build up there and are eventually absorbed back into the body. A toxic colon eventually leads to a toxic liver, which pollutes the tissues and the bloodstream, making a person very sick.

Get more information on symptoms indicating a cleanse may be helpful and find a list of toxins that reside in the colon and reason to keep the colon clean by reading the article, Why Should I Cleanse.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Help for Childhood Obesity

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has a website to get kids healthy and out of obesity. Doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion. PCRM promotes preventive medicine through innovative programs. Statistics show that people who maintain a healthy weight throughout life stay well and live longer than those who are overweight. The lifestyle habits that help keep us slim - exercise and a healthy diet - also cut our risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

This site has helpful tips, hints and resources to help with childhood obesity. Get a free booklet by mail or download the PDF version of it on the site. Visit Kids Get Healthy now.

Positive or Negative Thinking

by Donna L. Watkins

At this moment you can find ample evidence to prove that your life is miserable, boring and depressing. You can also find evidence to prove that your life is joyful, abundant and exciting.

Let's do an exercise!

Look around the room you are in. Do you see any dust and dirt? Any disorder? A closet or drawers that need organizing? A pile of papers that should be filed or recycled? Does the room need paint or repair? Is the light switch plate smudged?

How do you feel? Did you find enough evidence that life is awful, depressing and too much to handle?

Look around the room again. Do you see something given by a friend or family member that is special to you? Does it bring sweet memories? Are you sitting on a comfortable chair? Do you have a computer to stay in touch with friends and learn all kinds of exciting things? Do you have flooring that is nicer than a dirt floor? Anything there that produces music for you? CD player, radio? Isn't it marvelous that we can flip that switch and have light any time of day or night?

How do you feel now? Did you find enough evidence that life is grand, wonderful and full of good things?

Our thoughts are powerful! Those thoughts control hormones in our body and those hormones make us feel good or bad. They also determine whether we have good health or bad health. Whether we are depressed or joyful.

Yes, there is a chemical imbalance when people are depressed, but we must ask why? God did not create us that way. There is plenty of research out there on what thoughts to do our health.

If you looked around the room and didn't find anything good that didn't come without a sad or negative thought, I would say that you don't feel very healthy in that state of thinking. It takes a major overhaul to get your "stinking thinking" out the door, but you can do it!

What about positive thinking? That can be just as bad for you!

Positive thinkers sometimes use positive thinking as a way to justify their inability to accept the moment. They have a long list of "shoulds" and unless their circumstances match up with perfection (and it rarely does), they retreat into positive thoughts, thinking they will provide a better world for everyone with positive statements.

In other words, some positive thinkers have a holy sounding form of denial.

To quote from the book, You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought (Subtitle: a book for people with life-threatening illness):

"To focus on the positive is not to disregard certain warning signals of a "negative" nature that, if ignored, eventually lead to inconvenience at best and disaster at worst. If we use these negative signals to avoid disaster, then they're not negative after all. "

In the case of disease, we can acknowledge the symptoms of a disease and learn all we can to overcome that disease and move towards that goal. Or, we can begin saying that "we have" that disease. After claiming it as ours long enough our mind tends to believe it and our body may be less likely to get rid of it.

We are told to live in the moment, but most of us are thinking of the past and/or the future most of the day, so if we are going to do this, at least make it pleasant. Think of the good things from the past and the good things that will be happening in the future.

Keep it balanced! Negative thinking makes everything bleak and awful. Positive thinking imagines anything wonderful whether realistic or not, whether it's related to the event or not. Some people do this by quoting wonderful (unrelated) Scriptures any time somebody mentions a negative event.

Focus on the positive! That's not positive thinking!

There is a time for sadness and realizing the present facts. It's about how you deal with it. Realizing that you do not do something well is not negative thinking. It's evaluating life and how to make it better for yourself.

To quote the above book again: "Positive thinking only puts a gap between where you are physically and where you think you "should" be. There are no "shoulds" to a life-threatening illness. You'll be happier, and probably heal faster, if you let go of as many shoulds as you can....... It took a lot of negative thinking - decades in some cases - to bring on an illness. Why should a week or two of positive thinking get rid of it?"

Meet in the middle with wisdom somewhere between the sewer and the clouds. Focus on the positive, but make it real. Your brain and body knows the difference. Wellness doesn't come without believing what you think and say. Your brain will not believe the unbelievable.

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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Striped Skunk

As you can tell from his position, he's a bit disturbed. I had already taken 7 shots with the bright flash from only 10 feet away on the porch, and then I moved down to the sidewalk which was only about 5 feet so he got a bit nervous. You would think I'd have enough sense to be nervous too.

When threatened, the Striped Skunk will face the intruder, arch and elevate its tail, erect the tail hairs, chatter its teeth, and stomp the ground with the front feet.

This guy wasn't chattering or stomping but he was telling me I was a bit too close. This usually causes the intruder to retreat, but if it remains, the skunk will twist its back around, raise its tail straight up, evert its anal nipples, and spray scent 10 to 15 feet. The mist may reach three times as far, and the smell may carry a mile.

I backed up and left him alone to finish his meal. He was at the wildlife feeding area right off our walkway where I toss veggie and fruit scraps for the critters. I had the windows open on a beautiful night here last week and heard something approaching on the dry leaves. I had just been discussing skunks with my Auntie. She lives in the woods like we do and sees them often.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Striped Skunk at Birdfeeder in Backyard
Update: 8/11/09 - I was blessed one morning to wake up with a visitor out back at our feeder. I arise early, but this guy was lingering longer than usual with it being daylight. I was so thrilled and ran to get the camera to get pictures from the deck which was only about 10 feet away from him. He didn't seem to care about me since he was happy about the millet I had put out for the doves the day before.

The squirrels were busy eating also and the young ones kept an eye on him. I suppose they weren't too sure about what he was, but being bigger they kept their distance.

Get more information on skunks and see much better photos of adults and young.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Black Tea Soothes Away Stress

The BBC reports that scientists found evidence behind what many tea drinkers already know - a regular cuppa can help you recover more quickly from everyday life stresses. The study of black tea - instead of green or herbal varieties - found it helps cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in the blood. They found people who drank tea were able to de-stress more quickly than those who drank a tea substitute.

Source: BBC News

Fall Colors, Birds and Our Father's Provision

The trees are showing off their leaves as they lose their chlorophyll, revealing their real colors before dying and falling to the ground. I laid on the hammock one day and enjoyed the show as they danced all around me falling from high in the sky down to the ground. So noble and graceful. Oh .. that I would live so willing to bend at the Father's will for my life and to do only what He created me to do.

Creation seems to do that so well. I watch the birds day after day feeding and cleaning and roosting and singing. It appears they truly trust in the Master's provision for them. If we were that certain of such provision, we would surely relax from the many burdens we carry around unnecessarily. If we would trust God to do what He says He will do and receive His love knowing that everything will work for our good no matter what it looks like to us.

He sees our beauty, as we see the beauty of the Fall colors .... yet those colors only come when the tree is about to look dead and go through the rough season of winter. Should we weather our seasons with any less glory?

We have been surrounded on all sides of the house with White-throated Sparrows, like this little fellow to the left. They make me think God has put a bib on each one of them with that white throat patch. Birds remind me to be carefree and trusting, believing that my Father will make sure there is provision for me daily. That reminds me when I lay down my head at night that there's nothing else to think about until tomorrow. A good night's sleep is very important to our mental, physical and emotional well being.

I hope you're already making your Thankful List. In November, because it's the Thanksgiving month, I think of who is special in my life and take the time to say thanks.

Keeping the Holiday Season simple has been a great and peaceful change for us and for my mental and physical health. We can really make the end of the year an exhausting time resulting in colds and flu from the stress and too many sweets. May I encourage you now to consider what you want the holiday to be and maybe you can influence your family like I did and keep it really simple.

By the way, each of you are very special to me. I treasure your time spent with me and on our Bluebird Cove photo gallery. Thank you for the kind and generous words you send by email, and thank you for sharing this website with others.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Sharp-shinned Hawk

This bird, or raptor as hawks are known, is on the concerned list in some areas, but we still have them here in Central Virginia. We had the first one we've seen on our property visit last week. I saw all the birds fly from the feeder into the bushes below the kitchen window and at the same time I saw a big bird land on the corner of our roof at the deck, no more than 13 feet away from where I was sitting inside. I knew it was a hawk and, after taking a number of photographs, got the field guide to identify it.

View photos by clicking double arrows to the right
Get more info on this bird

White-throated Sparrows and Day Trip to Leesburg, VA

We've had bunches of White-throated Sparrows visiting lately. It's fun to watch them scratch on the ground looking for seeds. We also put out cracked corn so they've been busy with the doves storing up for winter.

It seems when the White-throats are ready to leave, we get in the Chipping Sparrows for Spring and Summer. They've nested in our bushes.

We took a day trip to Leesburg, Virginia, to meet some family from Pennsylvania. We all love nature, so most of the day was spent in various parks.

Rough Green Snake

We took a day trip to Leesburg, Virginia, to meet some family from Pennsylvania. We all love nature, so most of the day was spent in various parks. At the first stop we got to see a Rough Green Snake, some deer galloping through the woods, and we heard several songbirds. I was most excited about the snake because I don't remember ever seeing one.

The pictures turned out great and he was very mild mannered as the field guide said. View the Rough Green Snake photos. Click the double arrows to the right to view the close-ups.

I wanted so badly to pick him up. Although I no longer have a fear of snakes, my mind still tells me they're dangerous. Doesn't compute, so I know that it's just old tapes from growing up and from all the fear that people have about snakes.

Sadly so many of them are killed just because of that fear. They don't like us more than we don't like them so they will avoid us at all costs if possible and those that are poisonous do not want to waste their poison on something as large as we are since they know we won't provide a meal for them since they can't swallow us whole.

It takes time for them to reproduce that poison so they avoid using it at all costs. If you see a snake back away and don't feel like you have to kill it. Even poisonous snakes have a great benefit to our planet and without them we would be overrun with rodents. I have since looked up online how to catch a snake. WikiHow has an article called How To Catch a Snake.

This is useful information if you have one in your yard that you would like to relocate for some reason. We appreciate the snakes on our land since they tend to keep things in balance. I don't want them in my bird boxes though, so I wouldn't want too have many of them.

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