Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reducing Our Use of Trees

Though we make up less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans consume more than a quarter of the world’s harvested wood. Therefore, it’s up to those of us who live in the U.S. to lead the way in reducing wood consumption to sustainable levels.

Much of our wood consumption goes toward disposable, non-essential products. Americans mow down 27 million trees a year simply to mop up spills with paper towels. Sixty-two million trees per year are pulped to make junk mail, according to the U.S. government, while many sustainability organizations cite an even higher figure of 100 million. The annual holiday season leaves more than 5 million tons of discarded wrapping paper behind on American living room floors.

It won’t take a large sacrifice to bring these shocking statistics down. We can all do our part to use a fairer and more sustainable share of the Earth’s resources, taking action to preserve forests every day in our homes, with our friends and colleagues, and in our communities.

Suggested First Steps:

and forget about the paper versions forever.

They’re lightweight, collapsible, and can hang out in your car or slip inside a backpack without taking up too much room until you need them at the grocery store or other retail establishment.

(cloth scraps, scarves, or cloth bags) or in waste paper (newspaper comics, brown paper bags, etc.) that will then be recycled.

Buy items with minimal or no paper packaging, and look for companies that package their items in recycled materials.

for take-out, instead of relying on their disposable paper and plastic containers.

Call or write to catalogs, nonprofits, magazines, and other companies and ask them not to share your name. When you do receive junk mail, call the company and ask it to remove your name from its list. Contact the Direct Marketing Association to remove yourself from as many lists as possible.

Most credit cards and many utilities now offer online payment options that can help you reduce your use of envelopes, checks, and paper bills. If online billing isn’t an option, or if you prefer to receive paper invoices for your records, you can call your credit card company and ask it to stop including junk-mail “inserts” with your statement.

If your town doesn’t offer curbside pick-up, find a recycling facility near you.

whenever you must purchase a paper product, including computer paper, manila folders, sticky notes, toilet paper, etc. Every paper product you might need has a recycled or tree-free version available. This site has a directory of places to shop for paper.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Hour Cometh - Don't Give Up

by Donna L. Watkins

How long have you been praying for something your heart desires? We all have unmet desires and can easily get heartsick while we wait for God to "do something." We wonder if our prayers are being heard .... if our dreams and visions are actually nightmares to torment us.

Will this thing ever come to pass? Will my marriage ever be a safe and loving relationship? Will my wayward child ever come home to the Father? Will my sister or brother ever come to know Christ? Will this disease ever be healed?

We pray and then we stuff it because there is pain in praying for weeks and months and years without seeing anything happening that you want to happen, so we stuff it away to forget the pain for awhile and then the Spirit lights us aflame again with a burning desire for this "thing" to happen and we begin praying again.

For some, the struggle between prayer and stuffing has ended. Some have totally given up on God and prayer, on hope and faith. It's been too long. I wonder what Moses thought while God had him in the desert as a shepherd, in training but knowing it not. He had been raised in a palace and at 40 he found himself in the desert after fighting a righteous cause for his Jewish brothers. Would he have imagined he'd be out there for 40 years as a shepherd when he fleed the city after murdering an oppressor of the Jews? Do you think he questioned God about this during those 40 years?

God has a plan but His plans require a lot of training to get the world out of us and the Kingdom in. God never wastes experiences. Moses would have to lead Israel through that desert he came to know. How many people could have done that? He was apparently an impulsive man while living at the palace since he struck dead the Egyptian that was beating a Hebrew brother (Exodus 2). I'm sure there was a lot of pride built into a man being raised as Pharoah's grandson. The desert was the place that God chose to make Moses who he was really born to be.

Our desert times are there for a reason and God is using it all. I do believe the time will be shorter if we get into agreement with the Father's desires and if we stay true to His Word during the journey. We are precious to Him. We do matter! It's so easy for the devil to tell us God doesn't care and He's not interested in YOU! Don't listen to the lies being played like a continual tape in your mind. You are valuable and you are precious and important to Him and others.

Remember when Jesus left Judea to return to Galilee and came to a town in Samaria with Jacob's well? The Bible says it was the sixth hour and He sat down by the well. The sixth hour was noon since they counted from sun-up to sun-down or from 6 AM to 6 PM was a day, which is how the Sabbath was celebrated. People came to gather water early in the day to have what they needed for drinking and cooking and giving water to their animals.

It was now noon and a Samaritan women was coming to the well because Samaritans were the outcasts of the day in the eyes of the Jews. They were not allowed to associate with them. Think back to the times when we had separate doors for African Americans to enter buildings and separate bathrooms. Prejudice is an awful thing. It kills the Spirit and mars the soul. This woman came at noon to avoid the pain of seeing other women gather together to chat and draw water and be about their day.

She came alone and as we discover from a conversation with Jesus, she had a pretty troubled life. She'd already had 5 marriages and the man she was with was not her husband. That may sound common for today or at the very least not shocking, but back then it bore a lot of shame.

Jesus took the time to come into the town for this "lost sheep" to encourage her that she could access the Living Water and thirst no more. He told her that "the hour cometh, and now is." She was shocked that Jesus would even speak to her and ask for water since Jews could not use the same utensil as a Samaritan and certainly should not be talking with one. There was also the custom that a Jewish man did not speak to a woman alone. Jesus broke all the rules, didn't He? He just wanted this little lamb to be saved. She reached out in faith, the little she may have had and asked for that Living Water.

God met her desires for love, security, self-worth and value. After all the wreck she had made of her own life, Jesus comes in and cleans house in an encounter that took minutes. How long we wait for that encounter. A thousand years is as a day to the Lord is not a comforting Scripture to ponder.

When we put it all into perspective, our eternal life began the day we got saved and the life we live on this earth is short compared to eternity in Heaven .... in the Kingdom we were designed for. If we keep the Kingdom perspective, our time here on this Earth won't seem to important and if God uses it all just to train us for one spectacular season of life, then it will be what was meant to be.

This woman now redeemed and redirected goes into the entire town proclaiming the Christ. What Jesus did for her, He will do for you. It may take 1/3 of your life in the desert as it did for Moses, or you may go through 5 or more messy situations until you get to where you dream of being.

Don't give up! Don't throw in the towel and quit! There's no place else to go that the misery will not follow. Faith and Hope are the only things you can stand on during these desert times. There will be an hour in time when Jesus will show up and do miraculous things. Your breakthrough is at hand. Your time will come. Receive it, believe it and walk in it. Keep your head high because with Jesus there is no shame. He loves you no matter what you have done and offers Living Water to you. Drink and thirst no more.

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:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Writing Is Beneficial For Stressful or Traumatic Experiences

I think this Buckeye Butterfly would consider this a stressful moment with the Praying Mantis encounter. In case you're wondering, the butterfly got away. Research says that writing about the stressful events in life makes a beneficial difference in your health.

Non-drug treatments, with little patient cost or risk, are useful supplements to drug therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic illness. Research has demonstrated that writing about emotionally traumatic experiences has a surprisingly beneficial effect on symptom reports, well-being, and health care use in healthy individuals.

There was a trial done with the objective being to determine if writing about stressful life experiences affected the disease status in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. The results determined it definitely made a difference in disease symptoms.

Doesn't it sound glorious to be able to dump your troubles on to a piece of paper with the assurance that you will actually feel better? Read the entire study.

So ... if we think that stuffing our emotions or bad life experiences will make them go away, the results are quite opposite. Even if you just write about them, it appears you take a load off of what you carry around and what is affecting your health.

Dr. John Sarno's book, The Mindbody Prescription, states he had 90-95% success rate on structural pain issues by having people pour out their anger, frustration, and stress on paper and then combat their brain's choice to create physical pain from buried and even unconscious emotions.

I know that God has answers for us on healing .... but our brain is a powerful portion of our body that controls the rest of it .... so keep searching and don't give up.

Nature and Your Health

In the two decades since Harvard University biologist E.O. Wilson first suggested that fascination with nature might be hardwired into the human brain, health researchers and psychologists such as Heerwagen have amassed significant evidence that he was right.

Research shows that regular contact with nature boosts physical and mental health as well as productivity. With a little imagination, even people who are stuck inside can reap these benefits.

Read the whole story and get some great ideas on the NWF website.

Why Do Cats Purr?

The reason why cats purr has been the subject of great debate among feline experts. At present, there is still no consensus regarding whether the behavior of purring is voluntary or involuntary.

Purring is generally understood to result from the vibration of vocal cords that is amplified by air pushed in and out by contractions of the diaphragm. Both domestic and wild cats (including big cats that do not roar) are known to purr. Kittens are capable of producing purrs within a day after they are born, often purring while suckling.

Purrs are one element of the murmur vocalization group, sounds that can be produced while the mouth is shut. Purrs are believed to communicate pleasure and contentment, but cats will also purr when they are frightened or ill, and some will even purr while delivering kittens. Some experts believe that during these latter, stressful situations, the purring may be an attempt to reduce stress. When cats purr in the presence of other unknown cats or kittens, purring may serve to convey submissiveness or a friendly intent.

Although we may never know exactly why cats purr, perhaps we can all agree that purring is a most pleasant sound, and that our cats must feel some contentment while making those light lulling rumbles.

Source: Healthy Pet Newsletter

Monday, December 18, 2006

What does "imprint" mean regarding wildlife?

Many species of wildlife are susceptible to imprinting. Animals or birds "imprint" to something other than their own species when it is raised by people or another species of animal. It does not recognize itself as the species that it is because it has the "imprint" of whatever raised it.

It's important that this does not happen since instinctive training must be passed down to the animal also. If an animal is imprinted by humans, it cannot be released into the wild since they are fearless of humans and this would decrease its survival possibilities.

Whenever possible try to unite the "baby" with the parent or get it to a Wildlife Rehabilitator as soon as possible.

Wolf and Nursery Spiders

Wolf Spiders are known for their size and named because they hunt for food rather than sit in a web waiting for it to come to them. The female is the only spider that gives parental care after the babies are hatched, by carrying them around. As you can see from this one on the steps out front, it makes her look like she's having a "bad hair day." Think of her as a "mom" and not a spider.

Spiders are invertebrates, which means they don't have backbones. They are beneficial critters since they pollinate plants, eat harmful insects, and help to recycle dead trees and animals back into the earth. They also provide a vital source of food to many birds, fish and other small mammals. Spiders are not insects which have 3 body parts and 6 legs. Spiders have 8 legs and 2 body parts. Male spiders are usually smaller than females. Most spiders are very nearsighted although they have more than one set of eyes. They use the hair on their body to sense when other animals are near. To escape predators, they may jump a distance of 5-6 inches.

Fear of spiders is called arachnophobia and it is one of the most common fears among humans. Cobwebs are made by spiders that spin silk from glands called spinnerets, located at the tip of their abdomen. Not all spiders spin webs and the Wolf Spider is an example of one that does not. Webs get dirty and torn, so many spiders spin a new one daily. They roll the old one up in a ball and eat it. All spiders require a constant source of moisture.

Most spiders sit in their webs and wait for prey to come to them, but Wolf Spiders are hunters with keen eyesight. They seek their prey and pounce on them, like wolves, often prowling in the dark. They are easily spotted because of their size which can be more than 3 inches wide with legs. They eat prey of their own size or smaller like mosquitos, roaches, ants, flies and crickets. They also get food from dead carcasses. They are able to eat a large amount of food with their flexible abdomen and can then do fairly well without food for a week or longer by decreasing their metabolism.

Courtship behavior among spiders is highly ritualized and often species specific. For those with well-developed eyes like the Wolf Spider, courtship includes movement and bright contrasting colors.
After mating, the female Wolf Spider seeks out a secluded spot where she lays 100 or more eggs, guarding them ferociously until she can encase them safely in a sac of silk she spins and then attaches to her spinnerets at the rear.

Because they are constantly on the move for food, they can't keep an eye on their egg sacs, as most spiders do with webs. She carries the sac about a month when the babies emerge having already gone through one molt in the egg sac. They climb out and on to the female's abdomen area and cling to hairs where they will ride for a week or two. The female carries about 100+ babies which provides some protection for them and also provides a way of dispersing them. This is the only spider that shows this type of parental care.

Female Nursery Spiders also carry their egg sac with them. The difference is that with Nursery Spiders, the sac is not attached to the spinnerets. It is carried around in her jaws or pedipalps (legs) like this one on the side of our porch. When the eggs are about to hatch, the female builds a nursery "tent" to put her egg sac in, and then guards it from outside.

The female Nursery Spider will sometimes eat the male after mating. The male, to reduce the risk of this, often presents the female with a gift such as a fly, when approaching, in the hope that this will satisfy her hunger.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Make Your Own Bird Seed Mix

Some of the bird seeds on the market have ingredients the birds don't like and even weed seeds. You might want to get a large tote and mix your own birdseed to attract a variety of species. This recipe will bless your ground and feeder types of birds and even get a few woodpeckers stealing those black-oil sunflower seeds.

Winter is an important time to help the birds make it through. Place your feeders close to windows so the birds don't fly into them and so you can enjoy the entertainment.

1 part white proso millet
1 part cracked corn
2 parts black-oil sunflower seed

Combine the seed, millet, and corn in a large container. Store in a dry trash can or storage can with a tight-fitting lid. This mixture can be offered in a tube, hopper, or platform feeder. Black oil sunflower seed is a great choice because it is higher in calories so they need to spend less time feeding. Black oil sunflower seeds are also the #1 choice to attract the most species of birds.

The millet will sprout as grass if it's not eaten or a sudden rain shower waters the seeds on the ground. If you don't want things growing under your feeder, you could leave this out and double up on the corn.

Making A Difference Improves Our Health

by Donna L. Watkins

This little bluebird is looking at his reflection in the water. I want to say, "Penny for your thoughts?" What do bluebirds think about as they fly, hop and jump around discovering new things each day?

There's been a lot of emphasis on exercise for years. It's amazing the amount of money being spent on gym and fitness center memberships. Walking has always been great exercise.

It's well known that the aerobic benefits of fast walking is good for the heart, but with all the research being done on how our health is affected by our state of mind - by stress and anxiety - it is also important to note that even slow walking has many terrific benefits if done on a nature trail in slow motion. To me it's doing what comes naturally, and like this bluebird, you'll discover new things each day too.

The value of the shadows and light patterns on a wooded path along with the sounds of songbirds serenading the forest and all inhabitants, is priceless compared to a fast hard walk on asphalt along a path that changes little from day to day. There can be a lot of muscles used on a nature walk as you bend over to look at the detail of a wildflower or stoop down to get a close-up look of a mushroom that sprang up over night in the path. You can get plenty of neck movement as you watch a female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly floating through the canopy of the forest in search of the perfect tulip poplar tree to lay its eggs.

The emotional benefits will go a long way to making it a great day and those hormones now being produced by your smiles and good thoughts are going a long way on building your health also. I've never been able to use exercise machines. I guess there's always been something inside me that said it wasn't my way. Pounding asphalt doesn't fit either, but I do enjoy gardening while all the people walk by and take time to say "good morning." It's refreshing to begin the day with greetings from human beings who have at least learned to take some time for themselves in today's busy world that screams for more and more productivity.

I always lived life at such a fast pace before having health issues that have slowed me down a bit. Sleep was a waste of time for a couple of decades of life and if I wasn't getting something done, I didn't consider it a good day. But now, I've learned to take life slower even if I have the energy to do all that I did before. I see life differently and my priorities have changed.

In the book, "The Meaning of Faith," the author, Harry Emerson Fosdick tells of a conversation that John Quincy Adams had, with a friend on a street in Boston, at the age of 80.

"Good morning," said the friend, "and how is John Quincy Adams today?"

The ex-president replied, "John Quincy Adams himself is well, quite well, thank you. But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering upon its foundation. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out. The walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind. The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon. But he himself is quite well, quite well."

This attitude has been called "body transcendence," which means you don't judge yourself only on the state of your body. One online mention of this term is: "Body transcendence vs. body preoccupation. Stresses the ability to focus on comforts, enjoyments, and mental tasks while de-emphasizing body aches, pains, and losses. "

Getting old does not cause one to automatically become less of a person. Even while aging, we maintain many of our abilities and we can continue growing in Christ and in wisdom, as we learn to love more deeply. We should have more patience and tolerance for things our younger bodies and minds could find not comprehend. There is much to contribute to this world regardless of our state of health.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven."

Having to slow down for a health problem doesn't mean it's permanent. Sometimes our bodies just demand some R&R. Don't let a health issue make you believe that life is over and that you are no longer of value because you can't do what you used to do. Life has many seasons. Live and enjoy them as they come and keep yourself in the present. Don't look back over any regrets and don't look forward with fear. Take today and be who you are and make it a better day for somebody else.

You wouldn't believe how much a smile and a few kinds words can do for those you see each day. Taking time to add value to somebody else's life will always add value to your own. Handwriting is becoming a lost art. Take the time to write a short note to somebody - even somebody you don't know. I drive past a place when I go to town that always makes me smile. The landscaping is lovely. I realized one day that it may make a difference to the owners to know that others are receiving joy from their work, so I wrote a note and stuck it in their mailbox.

After that I decided to keep notes in my car. Making a difference in somebody else's life sure makes a difference in mine.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Eastern Bluebirds at Bluebird Cove

We named our acre here in this community Bluebird Cove because, when we arrived in November 2000, there were a lot of bluebirds to be seen. Having lived with deep woods in Alabama where we came from, we rarely saw a bluebird since their favored habitat is open meadows. Here we have enough clearing around the house and the trees are thinned out enough for them to visit and even nest on our property.

They are most magnificent after all the leaves have fallen since seeing the streaks of blue here and there as they fly about is such a delight amidst a gray and brown woodland. They really make our deck and feeders colorful.

At this time of year, the males dominate. They don't have to "kiss up" to any missy to nest and make more bluebirds, so they take their "first in line" status to enjoy the freeze-dried mealworms, dried fruits and suet they like so much.

Not all males have equal status though. The ones that were born this year generally stay around with the family through winter and even to help out with raising the next generation their parents generate. When we see several males on the deck rail, we can tell which one is the Papa of the family. He gets a bit bossy. More bluebird photos on our gallery (search for the word bluebird)

We've been having lovely weather here in Central Virginia - high 50's and mid-60's this week. I treasure each day that I can open up the doors and windows for a bit of fresh air in the house, but the warmer weather just makes me miss the flowers so much more. It won't be long till I see daffodils. Until then .... I will enjoy today!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Link Between Violence and What We Eat

There is a striking correlation between violence and nutrient in the diet. A clinical trial at the US government's National Institutes for Health and earlier studies involving people with violent records found that those given supplements have been able for the first time to control their anger and aggression. The causes of increase in violent crime in the last decades may well be decaying pathways of the brain deadened by the lack of nutrition in the stomach.

There was a story in the Guardian recalling an earlier study of prisoners from 2002 which gave striking results. Surprisingly the discovery caused little stir in the media and no perceivable action from government. Read the story.

A revolution has turned around Central Alternative High School in Appleton, Wisconsin, and its 'problem kids', sent there from twelve area schools. Respect, achievement, and discipline prevail where once kids packed weapons, took drugs, and exhibited "terrible rudeness." Could a change in diet really accomplish this?

Read the entire story.

Vet Clinic For the Homeless and Poor

How about a clinic with 15 volunteers that provide pet food and services to animals owned by homeless and people too poor to have veterinarian care? That's a cool concept that I hope catches on around the world.

Read article.

Recycle Sneakers and Athletic Shoes

Nike, Inc., sponsers the Reuse-A-Shoe program which takes in used sneakers (all brands), grinds up selected parts, then remanufactures them into athletic equipment, such as playground padding gymnastic mats, and running tracks. The equipment is donated to worthy causes. Call 800-352-6453 for drop-off locations and a Reuse-A-Shoe Program description.

About Bats and Bathouses

After sending out an issue of a newsletter I did, one of our subscribers was kind enough to email me and fill me in on some juicy and very helpful details about bats and their housing. He has given me permission to share it with you:

"Little Brown Bats will only roost in a tree if it has a lot of exposure to the sun, which means mainly dead trees with exfoliating bark. Both Little and Big Brown Bats will not roost in bat houses mounted on trees in the shade.

I am a member of Bat Conservation International's ( North American Bat House Research Project and have had successful bat houses now for 6 years. Unfortunately there are a lot of pictures out there which mistakenly show bat houses mounted on trees. In Europe this will work because they have different species over there.

Here in the USA, the most common bats we have inhabiting bat houses are Little and Big Brown Bats and Mexican Free-tailed Bats in the south. They all require significant exposure to the sun for warmth. This is especially important for mothers while they are raising their young.

I have been corresponding with John Schaust, Head Naturalist with Wild Birds Unlimited about changing their pamphlet which shows a bat house mounted on a tree. They have since changed their online pamplet to show a bat house mounted on a pole in full sun. They will be distributing new pamplets to all their stores this spring.

Another tip: Bats will inhabit houses mounted on a building quicker than those on a pole because they always explore roof lines looking for places to get in. They love attics because the large amount of space, when heated during the day, stays warm throughout the night.

There is a really good forum on bat houses which I highly recomend: This forum, along with BCI's bat house researcher archives are two of the best sources of info on bat houses I've found on the net. The neat thing about building a bat house is that you can build a nice one for almost nothing out of one or two old pallets.

This past summer I had 4 maternity colonies of bats in my bat houses, 2 each of Little Brown and Big Brown, totaling around 200 bats. I experiment each year and learn a little bit more each year and I am really excited about next year!" Terry Lobdell

Thank you so much, Terry, for sharing your knowledge and findings with us.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Natural Solution For Head Lice

Although they may sound gross, lice (the plural of louse) are a very common problem, especially for kids ages 3 years to 12 years (girls more often than boys). Lice are highly contagious and can spread quickly from person to person, especially in group settings (schools, child-care centers, slumber parties, sports activities, camps, and even playgrounds).

You may wonder if Fido or Fluffy may be catching the pests and passing them on to your family. But rest assured that pets can't catch head lice and pass them on to people or the other way around.

A child's doctor can recommend a medicated shampoo, cream, or lotion to kill the lice. These may be over-the-counter or prescription medications, depending on what treatments have already been tried. It isn't uncommon for treatments to be unsuccessful. It's important to note that these products are insecticides so they have many cautions. Applying these medications too much or too frequently can increase the risk of causing harm.

Paw Paw has properties that kill lice without the dangers of insecticide. When you read about the ingredients used in the following recipe you will find benefits for each of them to be helpful in other ways also.

Get the head lice recipe.

Sustainable Forest Management

A coalition of environmental groups runs the "Don't Buy SFI" campaign, which demands that the timber industry stop labeling its own products under the "Sustainable Forestry Initiative." The groups regard this program as greenwashing and an attempt to compete with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Label. Visit the website to email the SFI's board chair and to join a program tracking SFI marketing in retail stores.

If you're remodeling or building a home, look for wood bearing the FSC logo to guarantee your lumber comes from a sustainably managed forest. Check out this website to find a certified wood retailer in your area:

Friday, December 8, 2006

Dr. Whitaker’s Formula to Prevent Cataracts

"Since free radical damage is the key mechanism in the development of cataracts, it makes sense that increased levels of antioxidants would protect against them, and the research bears this out. Several studies involving thousands of people have found that long term use of multivitamins, vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E, and carotenoids (particularly lutein and zeaxanthin) reduces risk of cataracts."

And of course, green leafy vegetables including broccoli, tomatoes, melons, and citrus fruits are beneficial.

Source: Dr. Whitaker’s Health & Healing

Editor's Note: A good overall nutritional support for your eyes is called Perfect Eyes

Amazon Natives Use Google Earth, GPS to Protect Rainforest

Deep in the remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians are using Google Earth and Global Positioning mapping to protect their fast-dwindling home. Indians log on to Google Earth and study images, inch by inch, looking to see where illegal gold mines are popping up. Read article

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Waiting for Clearance Rather Than Making Things Happen

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Female Northern Cardinal
This female Cardinal is waiting for a spot on the birdfeeder. Patience is a hard virtue to learn.

Shortly before we moved to Virginia, during a prayer time, I saw a place in my mind and I "heard" the word Heritage. God caught me in a moment of "being" and I took that "vision" and got into "doing."

I have been searching for the Heritage since we came to Virginia. Trying to make happen what I thought was meant to be. I'm such a doer, I have to work at being a be-er. The picture I saw in my mind at that time is nothing like the place I had dreamed of living, tucked away in the middle of some woods. This was a large place on a hill with meadow around it and woods behind.

After a couple of years here, I was at a place called Pleasant Grove, which is an old estate that had been donated to the county. It's has a lot of open land and trails through the woods and a bench that sits on top of a hill looking out over miles and miles of land and views of the distant mountains. There again, in a mode of being, I felt that God gave me more details of this place I've called The Heritage.

My scenario includes a place with land and large home with lots of rooms to be used as a family spiritual retreat. There were organic vegetable plots that guests would have time to participate in growing food. How many children have never seen where food comes from? There was healthy vegetarian cooking being taught in the kitchen. After all, we'll all be eating vegetarian when we get to Heaven. :-)

Then there was something else that makes my Spirit leap: Woodland trails with Scripture signs and benches and me as a guide to show children and adults the wonders of Creation and the character of God that He put into flora and fauna.

Randal has such gifts in the area of counseling. He's been doing support groups and individual counseling for a long time. It comes naturally for him and from the comments I hear from participants, it's what he should be doing.

I've spent many hours thinking about this visionary place in my mind called, The Heritage. The longer I live in this area, the more I've come to appreciate the architecture of this house I "saw" over six years ago. However, the longer it takes, the more impatient I become at times.

And at this point I giggle ... because all of my plans and projects in life have come about by ME making them happen. I know that this is one vision and project that is not going to be about me, my power, my control, or my abilities. I have continued to ask God how I am to make this happen. Over the past year everything has been telling me that I am not going to make it happen, that He is. He has the details and people and place and plans and timing. It will all come together.

Do you try to make things happen!? I'm always right out there ready to go without rein or bridle. One thing that this awful rheumatoid arthritis has done for me is to allow me to slow down and ponder how things will be accomplished. I can no longer "do it all" and that must be some relief to this physical body that I have whipped into the "GO" mode for so long.

Sometimes God has us in a holding pattern. His healing is there for us, but we have to get our mental attitude right about it. If you've flown at all, you know that airplanes can't always land as soon as they get to an airport. There are other planes arriving at the same time and some have to go into a holding pattern until there's a place for them to safely land. Planes carry extra fuel expecting these delays.

I'm sure you've been in these holding places in your life, struggling to have enough faith to carry you through. You'll need extra fuel to stay airborne in these seemingly dry times. That spiritual fuel of faith will carry you through till you get clearance to land .... to see the vision and healing become real.

Imagine Noah who spent all those years building that Ark and talking about the coming rains when the land was totally dry. Did he have doubts? Did he wonder if he'd heard God right? Even when things seem like they've died, God is still thinking about it all and working out the details and timing and preparing YOU to be part of it. I've made a lot of changes in my life in all areas since I was first introduced to what I now know as The Heritage, and I'm sure God has a lot more to accomplish in me. If time seems to be moving slowly, it's because I'm not being very pliable in His hands.

Just keep in mind that His delays are not denials. Keep your dreams alive. Keep that faith tank full. Don't give up on the lost child, or spouse, or family member. Don't give up on the ministry you see in your mind but cannot imagine as a reality. It's not something YOU have to accomplish. God is just showing you what can be if you let Him work through you. You've got the fuel it takes. God didn't make a mistake giving you the vision. You can do this, but in a different way than we normally do things. The more we practice being in His presence, the faster we'll be given clearance to land.

Father, help me to be pliable to Your will. Help me to see that being is doing. Spending time with you just listening and learning and meditating on Your Word to hold off the Enemy is what I need to be doing. Your kind of doing is not of this world's standards. Help me to see with spiritual eyes and be the person You are wanting to shape me to be. Use me, Lord, in the lives of my family and in the lives of people that pass by me each day. Let me be an encouragement and focus on being a blessing rather than on being blessed. Amen.

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Green Hour: Kids Need Nature For Physical and Mental Health

A 2005 report by Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on U.S. health care issues, revealed that kids' average weekly electronic-media exposure is 44 hours, more time than most parents spend on full-time jobs.

Sixty-six percent of young people have TV's in their rooms. Half of all youths live in homes where TV's are on most or all of the time, whether anyone is watching or not.

Last year, the University of California-Los Angeles Center on Everyday Lives of Families reported that during thew week, parents and children are in constant motion - racing between school, games, shopping, work - and that American kids spend virtually no time in their own yards.

Psychologists have found that time spent with nature protects the emotional well-being of children and can reduce symptoms of ADD. One study found that sixth graders enrolled in environment-based programs improved math and science scores 27%.

A New Zealand study found that kids who watched the least TV, especially between 5 and 11 years old, had the highest probability of graduating from college by the age of 26, regardless of IQ or socioeconomic status.

Environmental psychologists report that exposure to nature around the home, or simply a room with a view of a natural landscape, helps protect the psychological well-being of children. Children with disabilities gain enhanced body image and positive behavior changes through direct interaction with nature.

At the University of Illinois, researchers have discovered that children as young as 5 showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of ADD when they engaged with nature.

National Wildlife Federation recommends that children participate in at least one "green hour" every day - an hour spent outdoors in unstructured play. Here are some ideas:

Go on a nature walk

Put up a bird feeder to watch from a often used room

Set up a tent in the backyard and sleep out

Go on a bug hunt -- but leave the bugs where they live

Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat yard.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Never Let Go Of Hope

I received an email from a subscriber who said she was jealous about my relationship with God, seeming to have great understanding and connection. With the pain and weakness she experiences, it seems God is far away, even though in her heart she knows He is there.

Let me set the record straight on a "great connection." I'm on the same ground as this precious subscriber. With rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other health issues, I can easily feel that God has abandoned me, but it's a battle of the mind, and one that I am determined to win day by day. There is healing when we get our minds right and those "good days" will increase as you use His Word to heal, one moment at a time.

I don't write daily so I have the advantage of being able to write when I'm on the mountaintops, rather than the valleys that we all experience in day-to-day circumstances. It's the fallen world ... not the Kingdom we were designed to be in. All we can do is reach and seek and be as obedient as we can muster up to be on any given day while we acknowledge that when we don't choose joy and positive thoughts, we are in sin. Repent and move on to another day.

God is always there for us. We have to control our mind and thoughts so that we can stand in Faith on what the God's Word says and not dive into depression by meditating on what the devil says.

It's easy to think "everybody else" has it better on the greener side of the fence and self-pity is a demon itself to contend with, but in reality, the other side of the fence has weeds and muck such as ours. It's only an illusion. The Word tells us that there will be trials and tribulations in life, so don't let the Hollywood and Wall Street advertising confuse you.

What God promises us through the Cross is that we will be able to bear it and we can do so in peace and joy through Him. It's so easy to focus on the negative situations that surround us, but there is just as much good. God has provided me a path in life to be able to work at home and to have my husband's support and help in the household.

God led us into this internet realm to provide His provision in a way that would accommodate the lifestyle necessary when living with chronic health problems. He prepared the way many years ago when we switched from drugs to natural herbs and supplements. I can't imagine having to deal with the side effects of the drugs being used for the health issues I deal with.

All around me is good. I just have to focus on it. Focus on God's work and not the devil's plans to kill, steal and destroy life. I encourage you to do the same! You will see God's plan for your life unfold amidst the great loss and destruction that you see around you. God can changes things overnight. Our job is just to keep our focus daily and to never let go of Hope!

Seas Census Reveals Unknown Forms of Life

Peering deep into the sea, scientists are finding creatures more mysterious than many could have imagined. An underwater peak in the Coral Sea was home to a type of shrimp thought to have gone extinct 50 million years ago. One of the highlights of the 2006 research occurred off the coast of New Jersey, where they discovered 20 million fish swarming in a school the size of Manhattan.

Read more of the wonderful discoveries in this article at CNN.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Connecticut to Use Only Safe Cleaning Products

All state agencies in Connecticut will now use only environmentally safe cleaning products in their facilities. Green products maintain sanitary conditions while minimizing harmful side effects and improving indoor air quality. More here

Free Videos and DVD's

Discounted videos and dvd's offer a good deal when buyng and coupons are great to get discounted rentals, but what about totally free? How many times do you watch a movie more than once anyway? Why buy it? Borrow it.

Have you checked into your local library's collection? Some areas are so well stocked you will never run out of options. We live in a rural county and the library is very small but they have one entire wall dedicated to videos and DVD's. If you don't know where your library is located, check out this site and find out:

Christmas Holiday Hussle - Keep It Simple

Don't let December get you into a hussle. I wrote a couple of articles years back that might encourage you to keep Christmas more simple:
A Different Kind of Christmas and Finding Stillness During the Holidays.

May I encourage you to take a pause on the consumer-driven way of doing Christmas and create a few new ideas for your family this year?

I've already exchanged gifts with my friend, Robin. She sponsored an Asian Elephant for me at The Elephant Sanctuary in TN and I sponsored a Red-tailed Hawk named Scarlette for her at The Wildlife Center in VA.

We've agreed with most of our friends to NOT exchange gifts but for those who are willing, I love to exchange contributions to organizations, such as I do with Robin. We do this every year and it's a most exciting event of surprise and intrigue with hints along the way. It's certainly simple. No long lines or intense shopping. Just a few clicks online and a lot of smiles afterwards.

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