Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let Go Of Regret

by Donna L. Watkins

We all have many things we regret ... small mistakes, huge mistakes. If we could but take back the time ... but we cannot! So we need to move on. The past and the present are not the defining line of what our futures are to be. It all works for good if we love God and believe He is in everything that happens to us.

©2010 Donna L. Watkins - White Goose
Downtown Reedy Falls Park - Greenville, SC
We have to learn to let go of regret, grief and sorrow of the past and move on to the future.  Let the river of life flow!

I read this song below awhile back and kept it to re-read many times to give me flashes of joy and fulfillment from the Lord's love filling me up.

Let it go ... there are things that have ruined our past, but only we can choose to have them ruin our future.

Let go!  Jump out of the past and enjoy a new life.  God has forgiven you any transgressions if you've asked Him to, won't you do the same for yourself?  I pray maybe this song will bless you as it has me.

He’s setting His clock.
He’s setting His watch.
He’s turning His hourglass.
The past, the present, the future all align.
We, the body of Christ, are stepping in His time.
Just step into His time.
I’m going to squeeze you.
I’m going to take the regret out of you.
You’ve been wondering, what could there be?
What could there be?
I’ve been pushed on already so much, so long, so far.
But there’s a pocket, a little place called regret hanging on you.
We say, no more regret.
We say, no more regret over the past.
You’re free at last.
I want you to say, ‘I’m free at last.
I’m free from the past.’
Now move, now move.
I’m going to move on you like you’ve never seen before.
I’m going to move you through a brand new door.
I’m going to push through a brand new door.

Glory of Zion Ministries website.

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Billy Graham Library - Charlotte, NC

I remember when I was going through some tourist options to decide what to do on our visit to Charlotte over Thanksgiving. When I saw Billy Graham Library, it was like my childhood flashed before me. We weren't a spiritual family and I don't remember either of my grandparents ever being in a church until the day I was married, but I was taught bedtime prayers, the 10 Commandments hung on the wall, and the Golden Rule was spoken of.

Billy Graham Library, Charlotte, NC
My grandmother raised me and she loved television. We always had the TV on from morning to night. There were a lot of programs I remember growing up with, but one thing that stood out was the televised Billy Graham Crusades. We would never miss it. My grandfather always watched also. They both came from spiritual families.

Viewing all that God has done through this one man was quite inspiring, humbling and life-jolting.  The place is a marvelous place to be to get your head centered on the priorities of this life.

Only God knew the important role this dairy farmer’s son would play in world evangelism. From the humble beginnings on a farm to his decision for Christ as a teenager in Charlotte, to traveling around the world he had a singular vision - to share the love of Jesus Christ with all who would listen.

In over 55 years of ministry, Billy Graham preached the Gospel message to more than 215 million people in over 185 countries. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was founded in 1950 and reaches out to millions more each year through radio, television, films, internet, literature, training, and events.

His son, Franklin Graham, says, “We are not lifting up or pointing to Billy Graham. We are pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Throughout the entire tour visitors hear the Gospel presented and have an opportunity to respond to the message.

I highly recommend visiting this place. The setting is peaceful and it's easy to get to from I-85 in Charlotte.  View Photo Album of Billy Graham Library and Homeplace.

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Companies for Safe Cosmetics has compiled a list of companies that signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

If you're not aware of the toxicity of so many of the cosmetics out there, learn more about cosmetic ingredients here.

Major gaps in public health laws allow cosmetics companies to use almost any ingredient they choose — even lead, mercury, and placenta. Get more info on these ingredients.

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How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Repeated head shaking. Foul-smelling, waxy build-up. Red, painfully inflamed ears. What do all these things have in common? All are symptoms of otitis externa, or what is commonly referred to as ear infections.

If you have ever groaned inwardly and felt dismay the moment your dog starts shaking his head or rubbing his ears along the nearest available surface, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, too many pet parents are more than familiar with this recurring medical problem. Often, it is accompanied by an offensive odor and one can only imagine how overwhelming the smell is to the suffering pup! Watch the video of Dr. Sarah showing you what to do.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For Those Who Miss Being in the Garden

Last week I just couldn't stand not being in my garden any more. The cold weather here in Central Virginia has made me a shut-in by choice. We've been entertaining ourselves with an interior painting project, but I wanted garden time. So I got my clippers from the garage and went out to cut down the poke weed which was now totally devoid of berries. Then I cut down the Blue-Black Salvias that were now almost black from the freezing temps. By then my feet were getting a bit soddy since I had on my garden gloggers and there was snow on the ground. BUT! I had a great deal of satisfaction getting a few things done while I had some winter garden time.

I didn't want to let my husband without the joy of garden time, so I made piles of my trimmings so he could gather them as he does the rest of the year. It was so much fun, I will probably do it again on one of those days when I just can't stay inside any longer.

For all those gardeners who are also getting cabin fever .... here's a video that will make you smile.

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Overcoming Depression

Weighing about 100 pounds and facing hospitalization, award-winning vocalist Candy Christmas, former member of southern gospel group The Hemphills, says she hit rock bottom.

In 2004 her doctor, seeing Christmas’ depression was winning the war inside and out, suggested medication or admittance to a hospital. But deep inside, Christmas knew there was another way to overcome the darkness in her life.

“I knew that the Word of God says that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and so I told my doctor ... either my religion works for me or it doesn’t, and I’m just not going to go that direction,” Christmas says. Read the entire article.

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1.8 Tons of Raw Materials For a PC

A United Nations University study into the environmental impact of personal computers, due to be published later Monday, has found that around 1.8 tons of raw material are required to manufacture the average desktop PC and monitor and that extending a machine's operational life through re-use holds a much greater potential for energy saving than recycling.

According to the study, the manufacturing of one desktop computer and 17-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor requires at least 240 kilograms of fossil fuels, 22 kilograms of chemicals and 1,500 kilograms of water. In terms of weight, the total amount of materials used is about equal to that of a mid-size car.

By far the best way to minimize impact on the environment from a personal computer is to extend its useful life, said Eric Williams, a researcher at the United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo and one of the report's co-authors. Read the entire article.

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50 Year Anniversary of Arctic NWR

From Sierra Club Magazine November 2010
by Paul Rauber

This December, we celebrate the improbable survival of the wildest of the wild. Fifty years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established what was then called the Arctic National Wildlife Range to protect the "unique wildlife, wilderness and recreation values" of 8.9 million acres in far northeastern Alaska.

In 1980, its size was doubled, and it was renamed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Most was designated wilderness—with the exception of a strip of land north of the Brooks Range that is believed to harbor large deposits of oil.

Congress has fiercely debated whether to allow drilling there ever since. In 1995, President Bill Clinton's veto of a budget bill that included drilling in the refuge led to a shutdown of the entire federal government. Just this spring, in the wake of the BP oil disaster, Sarah Palin claimed that her "drill, baby, drill" mantra actually referred to "safe onshore places like ANWR."

For the moment, the refuge is safe, and the vast migrations of caribou continue as they have for millennia. Environmental groups and Native people who depend on the caribou are still pushing for wilderness protection for the coastal plain, as well as for "resilient habitat" principles to be incorporated into the refuge's new management plan, now being drafted.

"We've worked to protect the refuge for 50 years," says Sierra Club senior regional representative Dan Ritzman. "Now we're looking forward to the next 50 years, or 100 years. Because of climate change, this is one of the most-threatened habitats in the United States."

While the refuge officially celebrates its 50th birthday this year, the area's natural wonders have been championed since the 1920s—by pioneering conservationists Olaus and Margaret Murie, and later by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who called it "this last American living wilderness."

In their footsteps comes author Terry Tempest Williams, who adapted the following essay for Sierra from her book The Open Space of Democracy (Orion Society, 2004). Read "The Open Space of Democracy.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Newsletter - 12/15/10

Hello Friends!

Thanks to those who responded about The Everglades.  We appreciate the comments and have read a lot about that area since I posted that request.  I've written up an itinerary, but don't have dates and reservations worked out yet.  It's definitely a place like no other in our country, so we are even more committed to getting there to see it.  If anybody else has been and wants to leave comments, here's the link.

© Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Male Bluebird - Front Porch
It's sure been cold many days in December already.  The best thing about winter (and my list is very short :-) is getting to see so many birds so frequently at our feeders and on our front porch bird buffet.  I do as much work as I can at the dining room table since that's where our bird buffet is.  It's been a delight to know we're helping them survive the cold winter to be able to have families in the Spring.

The bluebirds seem to be checking out a nesting box.  I figure they may roost in it for the next couple of months. Bluebirds begin nesting here in Central Virginia around mid-February.  They have two broods a year and the birds from the previous year's nest hang around to help out with the next year's family.

First "Room" with Painting Complete - The Entry
Color here looks a bit lighter due to lots of light above.
To avoid thinking about Winter for awhile, I decided to take on the task of painting the entire interior of the home.  It's needed it for a few years.  It didn't take long on my first day of painting to admit I was not going to be able to do it.  So, Randal joined in.

I'm not sure how far we'll get before we call in a painter, but for now, it's a nice distraction. I chose an Olympic 0% VOC paint with the color called Camel.  Maybe it was in honor of Chloe the Camel that I fell in love with on my birthday.

I've done a couple of posts on a few of the places we visited during our Thanksgiving trip to Charlotte, NC (see links below).  The rest will be up there before month's end.

Randal and I wish you a very blessed holiday season filled with warm memories and excitement for a new year.  Keep Christ in Christmas and enjoy the love that Christmas brings.

Lotsa Love and Holiday Hugs,

View Posts By Topic

Posts Since The Last Newsletter

Historic Rosedale Plantation - Charlotte, NC (DLW)

Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve - Charlotte, NC (DLW)

Choosing Friends Carefully

Pets Depend on You to Stay Healthy

Plant Therapy for Chronic Diseases

Our Christmas Letter (DLW)

Around Town - Charlotte, NC (DLW)

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve - Charlotte, NC (DLW)

Being 60, Making Life An Adventure #26-30 (DLW)

First Christmas In Heaven

Wildlife Gardening for December

The Emotional Lives of Animals

Health Risk: Cell Phone Touching Body

Newsletter - 12/1/10

Previous Posts You May Have Missed

Pets - Holiday Gift Baskets

Grumble and You Crumble (DLW)

Useful Tips for Winter Puppy Care

Visit to Westover Plantation Along the James River (DLW)

Being 60 - Continuing The Adventure #21-25 (DLW)

Pain Brings Desire (DLW)

Cat Hairballs and Its Remedy

Doctors Prescribing Nature

Wild Animal Baby TV on PBS

Winter: Help Wildlife In Your Own Backyard

Prairie Biofuels Not Good For Birds

A Day at Historic Jamestown, Virginia  (DLW)

Surrender and Trust  (DLW)

Being 60, Life Is An Adventure #17 to 20  (DLW)

Bringing Hope to a Desperate World

Dog's Bad Behavior Could Be Health Issue

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The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2010 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from The link to use is:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Historic Rosedale Plantation - Charlotte, NC

The neighbors called it "Frew's Folly," though the reason remains obscure. Perhaps it was the chrome yellow trim, a shocking contrast to the plank and log style houses common to the backcountry.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Rosedale Plantation Garden
It is unknown when the house became known as Rosedale. Originally part of a 911 acre plantation, Rosedale was built in 1815 by Archibald Frew, who was a merchant, postmaster and tax collector.

The house was occupied from the 1830s by D. T. Caldwell and his family. Dr. Caldwell, in addition to his medical practice, ran the plantation with the support of 2 slave families consisting of about 20 people.

Rosedale is one of the finest examples of Federal period architecture in North Carolina and is noted for its faux grained woodwork and the original French wallpaper that survives in three rooms. The gardens and grounds of Rosedale are a treasure in their own right and are perfect for a leisurely walk.

We really enjoyed getting to see some ancient trees and the original boxwoods in the garden. Old plantings seem to speak to me. View Historic Rosedale Plantation photo album.

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Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve - Charlotte, NC

Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve has 852 acres, with 737 acres of natural, forested habitat in preservation. There are over ten miles of hiking trails in the nature preserve with the ability to explore a variety of terrains, while enjoying scenic views of streams, small lakes, forests, fields and wildlife.

The property is also home for the Reedy Creek Nature Center and the Dr. James F. Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies. The map provided at the nature center is great for choosing trails and not getting lost.

The Nature Preserve provides habitat for 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles, and 12 species of amphibians. Kentucky Warblers have been documented during the breeding season in the dense undergrowth along the Reedy Creek floodplain. This species is in decline and is ranked as a "high" priority. This is the last known potential breeding location remaining for this species within Mecklenberg County.

Other unusual species that have been found include Conjurer's nut, pale hickory, spotted salamander, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtle, and Broad-winged Hawk.

I didn't take many photos at this place, but you can view the Reedy Creek Photo Album to see the rest.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Choosing Friends Carefully

by Michael Bradley

For those of you who have really entered into a true Spirit-filled, full-surrendered walk with the Lord where He is now leading your life in the direction that He will want it to go in – one of the first things that you will find happening is that God will start to prune out the people that He does not want in your life and start to bring in the people that He does want in your life.

As you will see in the Scripture verses I will list below, the Bible tells us to choose our friends very carefully in this life. These verses will tell us that he who walks with wise people will become wise himself, but that he who keeps company with fools will be destroyed. The Bible tells us that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, that we are to stay away from people who cause divisions and offenses, and to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly.

This does not mean that we cannot work with the lost, the downtrodden and the people who need to find God and His message of eternal salvation. When Jesus came to our earth in the flesh, He always went after the sinners and the outcasts. But when Jesus went after these sinners, it was always for the express purpose of getting them saved and cleaned up.

Jesus did not chase after everyone. He ripped on the Pharisees and many of the high-ranking Jewish leaders. Some people are open to be helped, others are not. The Bible tells us to stay away from people who are considered to be “dogs” and to beware of people who are “evil workers.”

One of the first things that God will do with your life once you come into a full surrender with Him is to start to set some boundary lines. He will now decide the path that you will now follow in Him. He will now be leading you into the specific jobs that He will want you to have in this life. If you are single and have not married yet, He will lead you to the mate that He will want you to marry if it is in His perfect will that you get married in this life.

And once those boundary lines start to go up – one of the first things that God will do is decide who is going to be coming into those boundary lines and who will be going out. In other words, God will be deciding who your true friends are going to be in this life and who will not.

The main reason God will be helping you to choose who your true friends are going to be in this life is because His ultimate and highest aim for you is to transform and sanctify you. In other words – He wants you to spiritually grow and mature in your walk with Him.

The Bible tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. God’s ultimate aim for us is our sanctification – where He starts to begin to mold and transform us into the express image of His Son Jesus Christ.

The main reason that God will start to take out the friends in your life that He does not want you to have is because some of these people may be negative influences in your life. They may not be open to growing and maturing in the Lord like you will be, and all they will do is try and hold you back when you start your own spiritual journey and growth in the Lord. They will start criticizing and making fun of you and all they will end up doing is stunting your growth in the Lord.

God will not be putting up with this, and He will thus be taking all of these bad and negative influences out of your life very early on once you enter into this full surrendered walk with Him. For those of you who are married and have children – it is the same thing when you do not want your children hanging out with other children who you know would be a bad and negative influence on your child.

You know that if your children start hanging out with the wrong type of crowd, they can become very easily corrupted in a very short period of time. As a result, you will become very protective with your children and you will watch them very closely when they are old enough to start choosing who their friends are going to be.

It is the exact same way with God the Father! This is why God will be moving very early on to take out these negative influences in your life. Once this starts to happen, you have to go with the program or you could cause God to start pulling back on you. And once that starts to happen, you could then start to backslide and everything could then start to shut down.

If you will allow God to prune out the people that He does not want you to have in your life – then what He will start to do is to bring in the people that He will want to have in your life. I call these types of friends “God-friends.” These people will be other good, godly, Spirit-filled Christians who are truly walking in good stead with the Lord and they will now be the people that He will want you to share your walk with!

As you will see in the Scripture verses listed below – you will need other good, solid Christian friends in your life to help you grow in the Lord. The Bible tells us that we can only “know in part.” No one has all of the answers to everything. By sharing your walk with other good, solid, Christian friends, you can each help each other out in your pursuit of the knowledge and ways of God.

You will know some things about God they may not know and they will know some things that you may not know. You thus are able to help contribute to each other’s storehouse of knowledge in the Lord.

One of the verses listed below state that two friends can help sharpen each other up like “iron sharpens iron.” Just like one piece of iron can make the other piece of iron extremely sharp by rubbing up against it – two solid Christian friends can also have the same type of positive effect on one another by sharing their own personal walks in the Lord with one other.

By having other good, solid, Christian friends to share your journey with – you will literally accelerate your spiritual growth and development in the Lord because you will have more than one source in which to feed and learn from. You will be learning about God from all of your own personal adventures and experiences with Him – but you will also be learning more about God from all of your other friend’s personal journey and experiences with Him.

How many of these types of God-friends can you expect God to bring in? Only God will be able to answer that for each and every one of you. Some may only get one or two to start off with, others may get 5 or 10. Let God make the decision as to how many and when they will be brought into your life.

What I have learned is that it is not the quantity or amount that comes in – it is the quality. You are much better off having just one or two good, solid, quality friends as versus 10 or 15 that are not as good, quality friends as the one or two may be.

Every Christian is operating at different levels of spiritual development with the Lord. God knows best as to who would be best suited for you at the level of spiritual development that you are currently operating at with Him. When God does bring in these types of special God-friends to share your journey with – they will be real treasures! These God-friendships will be anointed by God Himself due to the quality feedings and interaction that will occur in them.

Sadly, what you will find out very early on, is just because someone may be a saved and born again Christian does not mean this person has their act together in the Lord. Some people have become too judgmental and too critical in their walks with the Lord. Some have become too arrogant and pompous, thinking that they have all the answers to everything. They will tend to look down on anyone else who is not operating at the knowledge levels they are operating at.

Some have become so flaky in their walks with the Lord, that they have lost touch with reality and you won’t be able to connect with any of them. God knows best as to who will be best suited for you at your current level of spiritual development with Him – so let Him guide you to the ones that He will want you to connect with.

I have seen God do this so many times for others, that I literally consider it a miraculous piece of work – especially as to how He gets you to meet some of these people in the first place. Some of these chess moves are quite incredible, as most of these people will be total strangers to you until God moves in to match the two of you up.

The other thing that could occur besides God matching you up with total strangers is that He may move on someone else you may know, but that you are not particular good friends with. That person then gets saved and plugged in, and then they find out that you too are saved and plugged in – and now a good God-friendship can start to build up as you now have something in common with one another to start to build a good, solid friendship with.

This could be another member in your family, someone that you may work with, a friend who you may have known from your past, or someone you may see at church from time to time but never really talked with. The possibilities are endless as to where these people may come from. These God-friends can come from anywhere and at anytime – so keep your radars up – as you never know when God may move to bring one of them into your life.

Now I will go to the actual Scripture verses confirming all of the above for you.

1. Choose Your Friends Carefully

This first verse is the one that will tell us to choose our friends very carefully in this life. This verse should literally be burned into your memory banks so that you never, ever forget this basic, fundamental command from the Lord! Here it is:

“The righteous should CHOOSE HIS FRIENDS CAREFULLY, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)

Notice this verse is specifically telling us that if we do not choose our friends very carefully in this life, that we could end up choosing the wrong type of people to become friends with and they can then end up leading us astray from God and with what He wants to do with our lives. Many of God’s people have lost their calls in Him because they chose to hang out with the wrong type of people or the wrong crowd.

2. Benefits of Choosing Good God-Friends

Here are six very interesting verses showing you why God does want you to have other good, solid Christian friends to share your walk with.

These six verses will show you that there is safety in the multitude of counselors, that plans can go awry without having other people to hash things out with, that war is waged by having wise counsel with others, that learning is increased by listening to wise counsel, and that if you cease to listen to wise counsel – that you will start to stray from being able to acquire more knowledge in God.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)

“A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 24:5)

“Every purpose is established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” (Proverbs 20:18)

“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” (Proverbs 15:22)

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20)

“Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:27)

Once you turn the reigns of your life over to God for Him to fully handle, He will now make sure that you get matched up with the right kind of people that you can become true God-friends with.

3. As Iron Sharpens Iron

This next verse is extremely fascinating as it tells us that two friends can help sharpen each other up as iron sharpens iron. A true God-friend can help keep you sharp in the Spirit, let you know when you are getting too far off track, help you get through and make sense of some of the downswings that can occur in your walk, confirm and help bear witness when you are on the right track, give you pep talks when needed, and help keep you in the game when you start to get too mad and too frustrated when things do not go your way.

You each serve to help keep each other up in the Lord so that you both can continue to stay on the straight and narrow road that God now has you set up on. You can also help each other out if one starts to be tempted to do something they should not be engaging in. Here is the verse:

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

A true God-friend will always be honest and straight forward with you. You cannot help keep each other up and sharp in the Lord unless you are both willing to be totally honest with one another.

4. Do Not Be Unequally Yoked With Unbelievers

These next seven verses will tell us not to be yoked together with unbelievers, foolish men, dogs, evil workers, those who are disorderly, reckless, contentious and always causing trouble and strife.

There is one verse in particular that tells us that “evil company corrupts good habits.” This verse perfectly shows us what can happen to any of your children if they start hanging out with the wrong type of people.

Here are 7 good verses telling us to stay on our side of the fence, and to stay away from all of the bad apples who have no desire for God or anything that He stands for.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)

“A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands. Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:6)

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers …” (Philippians 3:2)

“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17)

“Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

All of these verses are giving us major warnings that we are to stay away from all of the bad apples in this life who will do nothing but try and bring us down to their lower way of living in this life. Many Christians have had their lives totally ruined and destroyed as a result of marrying the wrong people or choosing the wrong kinds of friends to hang out with.


Just as God saw fit to create Eve for Adam in the Garden of Eden when He first created the first man – God still places an extremely high value on personal friendships, and He will make sure to bring the right people and the right number of people in your life so you can each help each other out to go farther and fly higher in the Lord.

When Jesus first started to send the 12 apostles out to walk with His anointing, He would always send them out two-by-two.

Once you enter into a real supernatural walk with the Lord, you will go nuts if you do not have someone to share your walk with. There are simply too many good God things that will start to happen in your life and you will need others to talk with, to vent with, to share with, to learn from one another, and to help keep each other on track.

I believe Jesus was giving us a major piece of revelation when He started sending the apostles out two-by-two instead of by themselves.

For those of you who have not been matched up with a good God-friend at this time – just go to God the Father in prayer and ask Him to bring you the right friend that would be best suited for you at your present level of spiritual development in Him.

Unless God is keeping you all to Himself for a reason and a season, there is no reason that God will not want to move on this request to bring you a true, special God-friend in order to help accelerate your spiritual growth in Him. If God did it for Adam in the Garden of Eden, then there is no reason that He would not want to do it for you.

Scripture taken from New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2005-2008 by Michael Bradley.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

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Pets Depend on You to Stay Healthy

We know you're a dedicated group of caregivers; always there for your furry companions. And that's important because they depend on you day in and day out.

The cat’s bowl is full of nutritious Instinctive Choice. Your canine companion has had his daily supplements. You know that you are forgetting something, but you just can’t seem to place it. Maybe it’s not something you’re forgetting but rather someone! As important of a role your pets play in your life, you are the main character in their lives! Without you who would they turn to?

By changing a few simple things in your daily routine, you could be around for more belly scratches and rub downs! So, here are three simple steps you can take right now to help yourself live a healthier life with your human and pet family.

Get Active – Don’t just let Fido out by himself – join him. A recent survey found that more than 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. Since the health problems associated with excess weight include heart disease, diabetes and stroke, it's important to make weight loss and fitness a priority in your life. So lace up those sneakers and take your dog for a daily walk at the local park or around your block! The fresh air will invigorate you and the companionship of your dog will make this daily activity more enjoyable and seem less like exercise. Not only will this help keep your weight under control, but it will also help make for a healthier heart.

Eat Healthy – You feed your pets the best, most nutritious foods, and you should be doing the same. Hate the word “diet”? Try the 80-20 factor. Eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge for the other 20%. This is a very simple way to improve your diet. The American Heart Association recommends eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. An easy way to ensure that you are getting health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis is to try Sealogix Omega-3 Fish Oil. Thanks in large part to its superior quality, purity and concentration of nutrients, Sealogix represents an exceptional value compared to other market brands.

Stop Smoking – Many of us grew up when smoking was cool. Well, it’s not cool anymore. The American Heart Association could not have put it any clearer. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death! Your bad habit does not only affect you - it affects everyone in your home – pets included! There are so many cessation programs available these days that quitting may be easier than you think. Procrastination is one of the biggest hurdles, so make the decision to stop smoking today and consult your health care provider for the program that’s right for you.

Let your pets continue to enjoy the life that you have worked so hard to give them. You need to stay healthy, too! For healthy pet food choices, take a look at Life's Abundance products.

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Plant Therapy for Chronic Diseases

Working with plants can do more than lift the spirits. It can be an effective therapy for many chronic diseases.

Wes Buss gingerly patted the dirt around his newly transplanted tomato plant. His hands seemed to know just what to do. They didn't tremble. They didn't fumble. They didn't give up.

Several years ago, when his Parkinson's disease began to make it difficult for him to tend to his many gardens, Buss built sidewalks and a ramp to ease his scooter's path around the yard. But let the disease prevent him from gardening? "I'll never be ready," said the 73-year-old Twin Citian.

Buss was just the kind of person Jeannie Larson had in mind 16 years ago when she started a therapeutic horticulture program through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Read the entire article.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Christmas Letter 2010

We do treasure the love sent within Christmas cards and they make up most of our Christmas decorations since we only decorate the fireplace area.  The cards are placed on the mantle and all around it.  We pray for everybody that sends us a card ... it's one of our holiday traditions.

❤  Our Christmas Letter  ❤

American Robin in Our Holly Tree
We've had a great year at our place we call Bluebird Cove here in Central Virginia. Of course much of that has depended on our attitude towards circumstances. We all have problems and challenges in any year, but it's the way we deal with them that's important. I considered turning 60 this year as a challenge, especially since I feel 'ancient' many days dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, so instead of thinking of 60 years, I decided to find 60 new experiences or adventures during this year of my life. That has made a huge difference on how I look at each day. Looking for what's exciting in each day takes your mind off the things that aren't going well and gives you a focus of life's blessings.

Donna, Chloe the Camel, Randal and Benjamin
Speaking of birthdays, we were blessed to have our son, Benjamin, home for mine in September. We had a busy and wonderful time of counting up quite a few of those new adventures during his visit.

My highlight of the day was a visit to Mountainside Petting Farm where a woman's dream is a reality. She has rescue farm animals and one of them is a camel named Chloe who was so loving and snuggling, we could hardly get photos without her giving camel kisses.

Randal celebrated his 56th birthday in October and we spent some time in Historic Jamestowne. Neither of us would be considered history buffs, but maybe as you age you appreciate history a bit more. We did enjoy the trip and the visit to one of the historic plantations on the James River. We took a number of trips this year and saw a lot of nice places. I've always considered experiences in life to be better than buying stuff. Memories live on forever, the stuff withers away.

Red-shouldered Hawk After Snatching One of Our Green Frogs
Our best of the year memories revolve around time with friends and family and the exciting entertainment we get from our "backyard wildlife habitat" when we get new visitors.

Even the regular wildlife visitors can be exciting as you can see from the photos on this letter. I consider it the highlight of my day when I find something new to discover about God through His Creation which causes me to worship Him even more.

"You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." (Nehemiah 9:6)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Butterfly Bush
Life is a continual journey of ever-increasing glory as we are transformed into His likeness as we pursue His purpose and desire for us. It's been a very different year spiritually for Randal and me. Late last year we decided to really pursue God in 2010 and make Him more of a priority in each day and in all of our entertainment choices.

It has been an amazing journey which is not yet over and which will of course spill into all of our years ahead.

Benjamin still lives in Oklahoma, now in a home of his own in Yukon, which is SW of Oklahoma City. He'd been saving for the down payment for many years and decided to take advantage of the tax savings. This year for him has been one of excitement as he chooses the furniture and accessories for his own place. 

Deer Eating Food We Put Out For Birds and Critters
After 22 Inches of Snow This Year
He's greatly enjoying the chef shows as he learns how to make some of his favorite dishes. He purchased his first Christmas tree and I know the holiday season will bring a lot of excitement to the home.

Randal and I continue working our internet businesses and feel very blessed to be able to work at home and enjoy our own time schedule. With all the techie things involved with maintaining websites and shopping carts, Randal never lacks for a long to-do list, but we try to manage our time wisely so he doesn't go to work until 10 and we schedule dinner for 6. Our lunch time is special since we usually listen to a spiritual program on the internet while we eat. Evenings generally include playing a game if we don't have a social commitment. We have an ongoing tournament going. Winter is a good time for games and puzzles and they are always good for the brain.

Gray Eastern Tree Frog - This Year We Had Eggs Laid
In Our Birdbath on the Deck - Click for full story.
Nature's Sunshine's car plan provided us with a new car this year. We take turns choosing and this was Randal's turn, so he chose a 2011 Ford Fusion. The color is Bordeaux Reserve Red Metallic. Doesn't look red at all, but more of a black cherry color.

Our current project is painting the whole interior of our home. It's been ten years since we moved here and even though we don't have a bunch of little fingers on the walls, it needs it. I chose Olympic 0% VOC paint with the color named Camel. We're still in process since I decided I wanted to do the painting.  I've always enjoyed it as a creative outlet; however, those rollers require a bit of muscle and wrist action I don't have, so Randal joined in and after numerous YouTube do-it-yourself videos he's enjoying the task. We may both get enough of it and call in the painter, but for now it's a great distraction from the cold weather we've been having and it gives me more creative activity as I switch up the wall hangings.

Last but not least we still have our precious kitty, Squeek, aka Kitty Girl. She turned 14 in July. As an FIV kitty (feline AIDS), we are blessed with every year she remains with us. She's truly the best kitty we've ever had. So obedient and never whines for anything. Although she was a feral cat prior to living with us, she has adapted well thanks to our screened porch where she spends most of the good weather days. Now that it's cold, she snuggles in her warmed basket and at night sleeps on the bed with us.

We'd love to hear what's been going on in your life for the past year. Time passes much too quickly and it's easy to get caught up in tasks rather than relationships. With our job living in the home with us, we have the challenge also, but we're learning that the best things in life are people ... and that's includes you, dear friend!

P.S.  For those who want more details, here's some links to above topics that will provide links to photo albums also:

60 New Adventures
My Birthday Celebration with Ben
Our Travels
Our Garden and Critter Photos

♫  Joy to the World ... the Lord has come!  ♬

Wishing you a very blessed, peaceful, and joyful New Year.

Much love and many hugs,
Randal and Donna

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Around Town - Charlotte, NC

Since we weren't going to be with family for Thanksgiving, we planned a trip to the city of Charlotte, NC, with several new experiences on the agenda.  Although I'd driven through the city many times on various trips and even lived in the nearby town of Gastonia for a few months when I was single, I had never taken an exit in the city.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Red Rose at McGill Rose Garden
Our first stop was to visit the McGill Rose Garden, but being Thanksgiving Day it was closed.  We walked around the exterior getting some photos through the bars on the fence and enjoyed many flowers that were spilling over to the outside.

In 1950, Henry McGill purchased a block of land that was home to a coal yard owned by W. A. Avant. Avant, owner of Avant Fuel and Ice Co., sold the property to Henry, who kept the coal business running for a while afterwards.

Helen McGill, Henry’s wife, decided to beautify the area by planting two rose bushes, and eventually added numerous rose beds over three decades to the property.  Today, you can the Seaboard Coastline coal car still on its tracks, located to the left of the garden. The Seaboard Railroad Company donated the 34-ton coal hopper car as a memorial in memory of Helen McGill.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Historic Fourth Ward - Charlotte, NC
We then visited an area called Historic Fourth Ward, where there were 100-plus-year-old Victorian homes that had been restored.

The striking contrast of these homes with the backdrop of skyscrapers at the end of the block was quite odd.  It was like somebody dropped in a stage set behind the homes.

The Fourth Ward or northwest quadrant of Charlotte's Uptown area was resurrected in the mid-1800s as one of the more prosperous areas of town providing homes to local merchants, physicians and ministers. By the 1900s Charlotte residents had moved out to areas like Dilworth and Myers Park. By 1970, Fourth Ward had fallen into a state of neglect with many homes vandalized or burned. But the late 20th century Fourth Ward saw a restoration and is now a thriving part of Uptown. (Information Resource:

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Freedom Park Pond and Trails
Our other downtown Charlotte visit was to Freedom Park.  Interestingly, downtown Charlotte is actually called Uptown Charlotte.  Freedom Park was next to The Nature Museum which wasn't open at the time.  It was well used by dog walkers, joggers and leisurely walkers, which included us that morning.

This 98-acre public park is a slice of nature at its best, right in the middle of the city. Complete with four baseball diamonds, two batting cages, a dozen tennis courts, four soccer fields, a basketball court, a pair of volleyball courts, a pair of playgrounds, a seven-acre lake, an amphitheater, a number of sheltered picnic areas, and miles of trails and paths, Freedom Park has something for everyone. View Uptown Charlotte Photo Album.

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McDowell Nature Center and Preserve - Charlotte, NC

The preserve encompasses 1108 acres of forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie.  Over 90% of the nature preserve has been left undeveloped and offers terrific wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities.

The nature center served as a gateway and housed exhibits with a variety of informative displays on the preserve's natural communities and wildlife.  It had a gift shop with some unique items and great prices.  We purchased a few things for our sponsored Compassion International children, such as postcards and temporary tatoos of butterflies (girls) and frogs (boys).

There are nearly seven (7) miles of trails giving a wide range of diversity to explore while enjoying scenic views of the lake, forest or streams. We chose the Cove Trail which was a .8 mile moderate hike along the shoreline of Lake Wylie, hoping to see some shorebirds in this deep cove.  The brochure promised ducks, muskrats and mink and a beautiful Fall display of color in the maples that were very prevalent along the trail.  

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Wilson's Snipe
at McDowell Nature Preserve, Charlotte, NC
As we approached the Lake Wylie cove at the McDowell Nature Preserve, something flew out of the water's edge onto a drier area, but only Randal's sharp eyes could detect where the Wilson's Snipe was since it was so well camouflaged. I kept trying to find it with my camera zoomed in, but it was motionless for the many minutes we kept searching the distance across the cove for it. 

Finally Randal took the camera and got the first shot to prove there was something there. I figured it flew away while our eyes diverted for a few moments. There was not a twitch of movement, but then while we were looking, a bird flew into the other side of a tree nearby it and Randal thought it was a hawk, so the bird on the ground had more reason to remain motionless to blend in with the leaves.

After seeing the photo we both knew we'd never seen this bird before.  That beak was so very long and the coloring was so beautiful.  Since I didn't have my field guides I had to post the photo on a bird forum to find out what it was.

The extremely long bill is used to probe in the mud for small invertebrates and is actually flexible.  The tips can be opened and closed with no movement at the base of the bill.  Sensory pits at the tip of the bill allow the snipe to feel its prey in the mud.

An unusual thing about the Wilson's Snipe is the clutch size is almost always four (4) eggs.  The male takes the first two chicks that hatch and leaves the nest with them never to return.  The female cares for the other two and apparently has no further contact with the male.  View McDowell Nature Preserve Photo Album.

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Being 60, Making Life An Adventure #26-30

by Donna L. Watkins

With this post, I'm halfway through my 60 new experiences for this 60th year of my life.  It all begins here. Deciding to focus on adventure rather than aging has been a great thing.

Donna Entering Westover Plantation
Formal Gardens - October 2010
My mind thinks young, so surely my body will follow my thoughts.  I think of Ephesians 4:22-23 which says to "put off your old self" and "be made new in the attitude of your minds." Not that the verse has anything to do with aging, but rather being holy, but I know thoughts carry a lot of weight since we do nothing without it beginning as a thought.

I do know that my days are made better when I wake up speaking Scripture/Truth so that I don't begin to grumble about the aches and pains. They're still there, but it's like they fade into the background as I speak out what I want to think on, such as "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." Since I also believe that healing was provided through Christ, I know that when my mind lines up with faith and truth, my body will follow.

I also like to get excited about starting a new day by saying, "Today could be the day that I am totally healed." It certainly could be and to have that outlook helps me to get my body in motion and my mind meditating on God's Word before the devil tosses in his request for me to complain about all that's currently wrong with life. It's like watching or reading the news, he likes to get us to focus on the evil in the world and take our minds and hearts away from worshiping our Father. Once we've made that initial step, he feeds in the idea that God is actually creating all the evil Himself. Lies, lies, lies. The "deceiver of the whole world" as Revelation 12:9 states.

So I choose to make life an adventure. It doesn't come naturally. I wasn't born with the name of Pollyanna. Quite the contrary. I spent many years complaining about everything that wasn't the way I wanted it to be. But I finally realized that when you Grumble, You Crumble.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Great Falls National Park
#26 of 60 - Great Falls National Park was a real treat for me since I'd seen it mentioned numerous times and wanted to go. Seems we would plan to include it in a visit that required us to be in the Washington, DC area, but then we would just not get there.

The history of the land rather fascinated me along with the amazing fact that this 800-acre national park is only 15 miles from the nation's capital. At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge.

George Washington started the Patowmack Canal Company at Great Falls. The canal took seventeen years to build, and was one of the first canals built in the United States. Few ventures were dearer to George Washington than his plan to make the Potomac River navigable as far as the Ohio River Valley. An entire town grew up around the construction site to serve as headquarters for the Patowmack Company and home for the workers. The town was named Matildaville by its founder, the Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse" Harry Lee. Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, named the town for his first wife, Matilda Lee.

The greatest obstacle to the Patowmack project proved to be financial. High construction costs, particularly at the Great Falls section, and insufficient revenues bankrupted the company. Extremes of high and low water restricted use of the canal to only a month or two each year. The tolls collected could not even pay interest on the company debt. The Patowmack Company succumbed in 1828.

In 1930 Congress authorized this place of human history and natural beauty as a park. The National Park Service took on responsibility for its management in 1966. Today Great Falls Park, a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, protects and preserves the ruins of the Patowmack Canal and Matildaville.  View Great Falls NP Video and Photo Album.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins
Larvae Stage of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
#27 of 60 - I was so excited to get to see a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar while on a nature walk at Ivy Creek Natural Area in Charlottesville, VA on October 10. There were children on the walk and that makes for many sharp eyes and one of them saw it on a tree trunk. You would think that bright green color would just jump out at you, but they are very small and with all the green around you in a forest, the color doesn't seem to stand out.

This caterpillar is usually not seen since it feeds in treetops, making a shelter for itself by folding the edges of a leaf together. When it finishes eating, it will spin its chrysalis and overwinter until Spring when it becomes a butterfly.

You may think that those are eyes on the caterpillar but they are actually markings for protection. Many insects, birds and animals were created with built-in predator protection. To a bird, those big colorful eyes look formidable so it preserves the caterpillar so it can go about its cycle of growth and then form a chrysalis around itself and turn into a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins
Larvae Stage of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Just before pupating (forming a chrysalis) this larvae stage of the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly may turn brown, so my guess is that this is what we saw on another caterpillar on a different tree trunk. How unusual to see two of them close together. Maybe the previous storm blew their leaves down and they ended up on the ground and were now working their way back to the treetops.

If you click on the 'brown' photo you can see a side view that seems to show some kind of substance forming which indicates it's begun the process of pupating.  What a treat and delightful experience to add to my 60 list.  View photo album of Ivy Creek Natural Area.

#28 of 60 - Since Ivy Creek is not too far from us, we been many times, so to find two new experiences on the same nature walk made it a very great day!  We were out near at the south Rivanna River reservoir on one of the Ivy Creek trails and there are always damselflies and dragonflies to be seen since the water is rather still at that area.  I was intent on seeing something new and while I stood still, this Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly landed on a plant right in front of me.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly
Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. They are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, and very rarely butterflies.

They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic. Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, often on floating or emergent plants. When laying eggs, some species will submerge themselves completely in order to lay their eggs on a good surface. The eggs then hatch into nymphs. Most of a dragonfly's life is spent in the nymph form, beneath the water's surface, using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates (often mosquito larvae) or even vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish.

The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years. In smaller species, this stage may last between two months and three years. When the larva is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant. Exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its old larval skin, pumps up its wings, and flies off to feed on midges and flies. (Information Credit: Wikipedia)

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Tercentenary Monument
Dedicated in 1907 - Historic Jamestown National Park
#29 of 60 - I like to celebrate birthdays as a big event and for me, it's not about stuff but about memories. Generally my husband, Randal, does not want to go anywhere for his birthday; he likes to be around the house, but this year was different. He decided we should visit Historic Jamestowne which is part of a national park between Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia.

It was an unbelievably gorgeous day! Deep blue skies and Fall colors. They had an archaeological dig area and this was a day one of the archaeologists was speaking to a group of school children.  What a blessing to be able to listen in.  This is a subject neither of us had payed much attention to over the years, but after her explanations of what we were looking at, it became rather fascinating.

Remember the names Captain John Smith and Pocahontas? Jamestown was actually the first settlement in America, even though it seems the Pilgrims got more attention on a later arrival in Massachusetts.  Learn more through the titles and historical info on the photos in the Historic Jamestown Photo Album.

#30 of 60 - While in the area of the James River, we also decided to visit Westover Plantation, one of several historical plantations on the James. This estate doesn't have an open house tour other than when privately scheduled, so we thought it would be less busy and all we wanted was to stroll the grounds anyway. It had a lot of history attached to it and some outbuildings that were open for viewing.

Randal and Donna at Wisteria Arbor Bench
Westover Plantation - Charles City, VA
This historical plantation was built in 1730 by William Evelyn Byrd II who was also the founder of the city of Richmond, Virginia. The location is beautiful and the brick mansion at Westover is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of Georgian architecture in the country.

There are poplar trees over 150 years old and a formal garden that is lovely! We visited on October 23rd when there wasn't anything but a few blooms scattered, but it was a wonderful feeling wandering through the paths and ancient boxwoods. What an amazing place to visit in Spring and Summer!

We had the place entirely to ourselves until we were exiting the garden when another couple was coming in. It was a wonderful place to dream and walk with The Creator of it all. It felt like home to both of us. A lot of work had obviously gone into it when it was re-established about 1900, and many maintenance hours are certainly required.

Later I thought about when we passed the couple that was beginning their journey in the garden, that we should've said something to them .... maybe something like, "Welcome, have a delightful time" ... as if we were ourselves the creators of it all. Isn't it grand to dream now and then about what we would do with such a place? I certainly wouldn't want the maintenance headaches, but holding spiritual gatherings there to praise our Lord would be so lovely!  View photo album of Westover Plantation.  Continue on with my adventures.

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