Monday, May 31, 2010

Dealing with Tragedy

by Donna L. Watkins

Tragedies happen and when they do, our human nature tends to want to assess the blame and line up judgment in as many ways as possible.  It's as if we believe we can prevent it from happening to us or in our backyard if we send out a force of accusation against it.  

© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Fence Lizard - Florida

Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, recent oil spills ... so much damage and loss of life ... too much to comprehend, so we focus on blame.  

Don't we process our own tragedies in life the same way?  If we continue to blame somebody else for what happened to us, we feel like the flood of grief, anger and pain will flow in that direction.  But it doesn't.  We are still left with the hurt and memories and horrors of trauma that have left their imprint up on our soul and spirit.  It's obviously not a workable solution.

Lately The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been taking some accusations for being "linked" to the BP oil spill.  TNC was pretty much the pioneer in building relationships with the mega corporations that pollute and poison God's Creation. We didn't understand it or feel good about it for a long time, but after studying deeper and realizing that it was making such a HUGE difference in preserving lands and reducing pollution, we could see it was wisdom in action.
© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Spider in Web - Florida

Mentally it doesn't seem to compute ... but the fact is, these corporations are loaded with money and don't mind spending it for some good PR to wash up much of their toxic carelessness ... and in my mind that's a good thing. It's a one-way relationship as far as money goes ... and including them on boards and committees can a good thing. It may look like they get a say in how things are going ... but the real picture is that they get to HEAR and SEE about the effects of what their corporation is doing in our world and the tremendous burden and consequences it places upon people.

This progressive arrangement has been attacked before. It reminds me of Jesus always hanging out with the "bad guys" of His day ... hoping that His Light and Good would displace the Dark and Evil in those who spent time with Him. 

He accepted "gifts" from this dark side also. The Pharisees quickly judged him for eating with tax collectors and sinners when he accepted dinner at Levi's house. While He dined at Simon's house (the Pharisee), the sinful woman came to wash Jesus' feet with tears and anoint him with oil and Jesus honored her actions.

At a well in Sychar, He took water from a Samaritan woman which was totally forbidden -- actually He asked for it and then had an extended conversation with her. For Jesus to talk to a woman alone was considered improper. Since she was a Samaritan, it compounded the offense.

© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly - Florida

Our Western finite analytical minds seem to believe that we can figure it all out or make sense of everything ... but wisdom is above understanding and many times we are not able to comprehend Jesus working in the midst of what we consider evil, but He did it all the time.

As I've learned more and more about His love and the Grace earned and offered on Calvary, I realize it's just my own legalism that blocks me. My belief that I am able to understand all things if I think about and analyze it long enough is futile.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." Isaiah 55:8

BP has donated lots of money to TNC and lots of land for preservation.  Christians have not stewarded the earth well, and God is not opposed to using anybody who will work to preserve it for future generations. 

Our world has become saturated with toxic-related illnesses, besides the millions in "unknown" countries, who have died because of environmental destruction polluting their lands and water supplies. We in America have been the biggest abusers of the earth in countless direct and indirect ways. We even ship our toxic waste to other countries to process ... and we grow and import flowers, fruits and vegetables from other countries that allow chemicals that we have outlawed.  To add to the atrocity of it all, most of these countries use child labor and without fair wages. Oh God ... forgive us ... and bring revival again so that we may see YOUR will more clearly for ourselves and Your Creation.

© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Yellow Iris - Bluebird Cove, VA
Colossians 1:16 says all things were made by Him and for Him. The fact remains that the multitudes of beautiful designs evident in the earth point to a good Creator of infinite wisdom and knowledge and power. Creation reveals God's goodness and shows God to be an artistic and scientific Master who pays attention to detail and creates many good things for people to enjoy.

Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher "standard of living" is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech. -- Aldo Leopold (1886-1948)

“In God’s wilderness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and the wounds heal ere we are aware.” -- John Muir

© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Sunrise at Bluebird Cove, VA

The utter simplicity of how much God can reveal to us through His Creation is astounding. Who has not spent a few hours in a forest, or on an empty beach with the ocean's roar, or on a rock by a rolling river, or looked for miles from a mountaintop, or watched a sunset across the meadow of wildflowers ... and not seen God? 

Creation reveals to our hearts within that there is a God and the expanse of it all reminds us of how BIG and GREAT He is.  We have a sense of who we are and that we are to have a purpose and destiny beyond what our minds can imagine.  Creation imparts the creativity of God because we are made in His image.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? -- Psalm 8:3-4

© Photo 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Common Buckeye Butterfly - Florida

Pollution has made God's handiwork unseen in many areas of our world. Polluted rivers show not God's glory, but man's selfishness and greed. Mountaintop views of most large cities are blocked by pollution that hovers above. The list could go on and on .....

How easy it is to condemn an organization that is working to preserve God's artwork. Their mandate is to prevent species extinction. We value drawings by our children and hang them up for all to see. How would your child feel if somebody came into your home and tore the picture off the refrigerator and crumbled it up and put it in with the garbage? How does God feel as we misuse and abuse His Creation / artwork?

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Couples Retreat at Ellel Ministries - Lithia, FL

Randal and I attended a couples retreat and seminar in Lithia, FL earlier this month. The drive was long from Central Virginia, but the 49 hours we had there were packed and full of wisdom and peaceful interludes with God.

The 144 acres with "old Florida" habitat were lovely to roam. We stayed in a nice, clean and very neat guest house with two other couples in other rooms.  Part of the joy was getting to know the others that came for the seminar.

Of course, I also wanted to get to know more of God's Creation in that part of the world, so I took plenty of photos.  Right behind our guest house I found some wild orchids.  As soon as I'd finished taking the picture of the closed petals, they popped open to reveal the inside beauty.  View the photo album of the property.

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Great Swamp Sanctuary - Walterboro, SC

Another highway stop we made was The Great Swamp Sanctuary in the City of Walterboro, SC. It's only three minutes from I-95. A great place to take a break from interstate driving.

Located within the ACE Basin, the East Coast’s largest estuarine preserve, the 842-acre Sanctuary features what may be the only “braided creek” swamp accessible to the public.

A completed network of boardwalks, hiking, biking and canoe trails provide a perfect vantage point to observe the diversity of wildlife inhabiting the black water bottomland. The most historically significant of these paths follows the Colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road still bearing the cypress remnants of long-fallen bridges.

The final phase of the project, the 10,000-square-foot Discovery Center, will include a theater, gift shop, multi-purpose classroom and cutting-edge exhibition area featuring a great swamp pool, alligator slough and river otter habitat.  View photo album.


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Azalea Park with Sculptures - Summerville, SC

When we have any driving trip, I always find natural places to stop and stretch our legs. State parks, wildlife refuges, swamps, preserves, gardens. Whatever will delight us and get our mind and energy back to hit the road again.

On our recent trip to Florida, on the way down, we stopped at this park because I love sculpture. My favorite one was titled, "Hop To It" by Kim Shaklee. A 53" bronze Southern Leopard Frog, which is a local resident of Summerville, SC. View photos here.

There were more sculptures that we did not see on the another part of the trail. You can download the Azalea Park brochure in PDF format for more information.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Remembering The Miracles

by Donna L. Watkins

Have you ever known anybody that grew up with everything being done for them by parents who didn't want their children to suffer the rough times they had to go through? There's no character and not even much of a personality in those adults ... there's not even an awareness of how to live life. They've been crippled by protective parents who didn't allow life's lessons into the child's world. Trouble shapes us and shows us purpose as we find ways through it and share those ways with others who are troubled.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Goose at Wayside Stop - Florida

Remember all that God did for Israel in that desert as they wandered one more time around the mountain, while God tried to work the slavery mentality out of them and work in a faith mentality? He led them with a cloud by day and a fiery fire by night. A continual reminder of a glorious God. He brought water out of rocks and provided the bread of angels for them to eat (manna), yet with every trouble they grumbled rather than trusted.

When they were sent to scout out the Promised Land, twelve men were sent and only two of them brought back a good report. Praise God for at least two! The other ten saw only what eyes full of fear would see. Giants. They had missed seeing all the giants that God had slain in their journey in the wilderness because they had a negative outlook. After all those years in slavery they didn't believe in themselves ... how could they believe in what they could not see?

We have a lot of bondage that we bring into our adult years from childhood and some people never change their outlook. When we take the Exchange offered by Christ, we continue to walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. We take on habits from bad choices. Addictions to alcohol, tobacco, food, shopping. We seek deliverance from all the bondage and we want it to happen with miracles. Did miracles help Israel to get rid of their bondage mentality? Did they ever grow up and become victorious?  No ... that generation died in the desert because they gave up on God.

We may desire miracles, but we were given the power of Christ to make right choices. Most of our bondage comes from wrong choices and from no self-control. We lead ourselves into slavery to things that control us and ruin our relationships, all the while begging God to do what we can do for ourselves.  The sad thing is that we can't do it without God. Every day I get up and tell God I can't do it alone. I need His help to walk in the fruits of the Spirit. I need His help to love the unlovable and to defeat my own demons.

Self-control is the foundation for being able to walk in the rest of the fruits of the Spirit. Although love is the greatest of all, even that cannot be done without self-control. We're a nation without restraints, being taught to have it all and to order the "biggie" size of it.

What do you want to be better in your life? Would self-control make it better? In the tongue is the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). That's not only the words that you speak, but the taste buds. People are killing themselves slowly with wrong dietary choices. Proverbs 23:3 says, "Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive." Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Our dietary and exercise choices can definitely devour our lives if we don't choose well.

In all of this ... do we seek God's help and strength. Do we trust and have faith and spend more time with Him and His Word so we can use that Word in which there is literal Power!? We can quote affirmations till we're blue in the face, but the Word of God is full of Power: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword" (Heb. 4:12).

Don't give up on God. Take more time to learn more of Him and His Word and that time will be multiplied to you! Your reasoning mind says you don't have time, but your Spirit is longing for more of the One True Living God. The only salvation and hope to make everything okay. God hasn't given up on you. Return with a zeal to lean in, press in, come apart from the cares of this world, and build that faith relationship that will serve you all the days of your life with hope, joy, peace and power. Choose you this day: Life or Death ... Blessings or Curses. What ground are we sowing into?

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We Need To Talk

From AARP Magazine

We tweet, we text, we e-mail. Everybody's chatting, but is anybody listening? Why America needs to revive the vanishing art of conversation. We need to talk ...

On a sparkling Sunday afternoon recently, I found myself in our local Baltimore park, sitting on a blanket with my 5-year-old daughter, consumed by an e-mail that appeared on my brand-new iPhone—a legitimately important communication from my employer that demanded a timely response. She chattered on (my daughter, that is, not my boss) about peanut butter and birds and how to sing "This Land Is Your Land" while I tapped out my reply.

Hitting "Send," I felt a flush of satisfaction—that's one less e-mail to deal with tomorrow morning—and plowed back into my in box, looking for more chores to dispatch. Then I blinked up to see all the other silently staring parents, slumped on benches or standing around, buried in the screens of their own smartphones. The kids ignored them; they ignored the kids; the birds sang, and the sun shone. And that flush faded to something closer to a chill.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned conversation? Read the entire article.

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Smelly Compost Pile?

Composting is a great way to reduce household and yard organic waste and create a good soil amendment for your garden. While the materials in a well constructed compost pile will break down quickly and effectively with few problems, sometimes active compost piles can smell of ammonia, depending on the type of manures and materials used. Researchers in France sought out ways to reduce the ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions from compost piles, while still making them effective.

Researchers experimented with compost piles made from cattle manure and hay and turkey manure and straw. They found that most of the emissions, and smell, were emitted when the piles were constructed and, again, when they were turned.

Their remedy was to add water so the dry matter content went from 55% of the pile to only 33%. Initially the temperature of the pile went down, but it recovered in a few days and the pile continued to cook. However, the ammonia, nitrous oxide, and smell were significantly reduced. For more information on this compost research, go to Science Direct.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Grace Teaching Us

By J. Strombeck

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." Titus 2:11-14 NKJV

In the above passage, the teaching work of grace is emphasized. In the original text the meaning is: "to train up a child, to chasten, to instruct, to teach." The same word in Hebrews 12:6, 7,10 is translated by some form of the word chasten.

Thus when grace teaches, it does more than impart knowledge as an instructor. It teaches in the sense that wise parents train and discipline children. This must first of all be in love, and not by threatenings. It is done by pointing out that which is good and helpful and warning against that which is wrong and destructive.

It may mean withholding things that are greatly desired; but it also means giving encouragement, both by word and by actual help, in difficult times and in failures. Moreover, it includes chastening when necessary and this, as in Hebrews 12:6, may partake of the nature of scourging. But it never means forsaking the child.

All impartation of spiritual truth, all instruction, all reproof, all admonition, all exhortation, and all chastening are elements of the discipline by grace.

There is a false idea, a prevalent one, that God's law teaches men how to live godly lives. Does not the law set forth high standards of moral living that man may know how to live pleasing unto God? Not only unsaved men hold this view, but a vast majority of believers, in a greater or less degree, consent to it. This view is not in harmony with the passage under consideration.

Certainly, unsaved men are not taught righteousness by the law. If that were the purpose of the law, then it would have been one of the most colossal failures of all of God's economy, for it is said that by the law every mouth is stopped and all the world is guilty before God (Rom. 3:19). Not one man has learned godliness by the precepts of the law.

But was not the Mosaic Law given to God's people, Israel, to teach them the conduct He required of them? True, but in giving the law God also with it provided sacrifices as a ground for extending mercy when they broke the law. This proves that God knew that the law could not so teach righteousness as to produce godly living.

Two errors had crept into the Galatian church. The one of these was that the justified believer is made perfect by keeping the law. Had this contention been true, it might rightly be said that the law is the teacher of godliness, but Paul in contending against this error wrote:

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24, 25).

Notice, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. In other words, it is by the law and the failure to fulfill its demands that man is brought to Christ, who is the source of grace. When that has been done there is no further need for the law as a schoolmaster.

Another statement definitely affirms that the law is not a teacher of godliness. It is:

"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14).

By inference he who is under the law is dominated or ruled by sin. From this it is clear that while God in the law sets forth standards of life for man, the law was not expected to produce righteousness in the lives of men. The reason is that the law merely tells men what they must do. Then it is left to man, entirely in his own strength, to do that which the law demands.

Because of man's sinful nature this is impossible. That is why the law cannot be a means of producing godliness in man. This is confirmed by the words: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh..." (Rom. 8:3).

It is therefore fundamental to recognize that all teaching of righteous living, to be effective, must not be grounded in law, but in grace. Any appeal for godliness not related to grace is based on a false premise.

To reject the law as a teacher is not to say that there are no standards set for Christian conduct. Grace also sets standards but these are on a much higher plane. Those of the law are on a high human plane; those of grace on a divine plane.

Furthermore, grace supplies that which is needed to live according to these ideals. Of the Holy Spirit, who is a gift of God's grace, Jesus said: "He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). He is not merely a signpost that points to high ideals. He is a divine Person dwelling in the believer to guide into "all truth." This is something entirely unknown to the law.

Jesus said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He came "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

The grace which came by Him gives spiritual life; also, by teaching, it makes that life more abundant. Paul wrote to the Philippians: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you ... being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:3, 6).

The beginning of the work was saved by grace; the performance of it is disciplined by grace. God never saves a person and then leaves him to himself to finish the good work. He Himself perfects that which He has begun. Grace is just as important, it is just as much needed, and is equally provided for both [beginning and finishing].

How wonderful it is to know that the same grace, the same loving-kindness of God, which sent His Son to the cross and brought salvation, also disciplines and perfects that life which is born of God!

Source: Excerpts from J. Strombeck, Disciplined by Grace (Chicago: Moody Press)

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Why Live More Simply?


These days there are a lot of arguments being waged on the benefits of paying down debt, buying used cars, paying off mortgages early, and building savings. All of these are noble financial goals, and generally receive positive reinforcement from financial planners in the media.

However, there is an element that disagrees with this logic, and they are quick to point out where the mathematics don’t support these life-simplifying steps.

This post is aimed primarily at that audience, and for the rest of you, perhaps it will provide some comfort when dealing with these types.

Excess Material Possessions + Excess Financial Worries = Stress

Since I know how much you “financial nerds” love formulas, I’ve provided one for you to chew on. I once wrote a post about homeowners paying off their mortgage early, and it was generally well-received.

However, I received a number of emails from “financial experts” out there who disagreed with the idea. They were all-too-eager to tell me about the various ways that same money could be earning more in the markets.

Maybe so. But their fancy formulas didn’t account for the one variable most important to me at this stage in my life ... Read the entire article.

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How Toxic Is Your Home?

Did you know many household cleaners contain a chemical called formaldehyde (also known as embalming solution), which could cause severe irritation to our pet's eyes, throat and skin?

Or how about rug and carpet shampoos, they contain a chemical called perchloroethylene, which can cause dizziness, insomnia, nausea, tremors and loss of appetite?

Some floor polishes contain chemicals that can cause cancer as well as damage to the heart, kidneys, liver and central nervous system. As a matter of fact, most household products do not even warn you of the chemical dangers they could cause. So how toxic is your house?.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Weed to Keep in Your Garden

Horseweed is a plant that would normally be pulled up as a weed, but with all its beneficial properties, you might want to consider leaving some in at least one area of your yard to make your gardening chores less chemically-intensive.

The more bug control we have provided by nature, the better our water supply and less chemicals on the ground for our children and pets ... and less exposure for us while herbicides are being applied.

Sometimes we need to leave perfection out of the garden and help to keep our world a bit less toxic.

Share this with your gardening friends or blogs.

Horseweed Attracts Beneficial Bugs.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Faith and Expectancy


"Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly" (Psalm 5:3, NLT)

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria Osteen

What are some of the things you do each day? We are all creatures of habit in one way or another, but can you say like the Psalmist that you wait expectantly each day? Most people find it easier to follow the first part of this verse. They bring their requests each day; but really, the key to seeing God move in your life is found in the second part—to wait expectantly each and every day.

When you go out with an attitude of faith and expectancy, you are opening the door for God to move on your behalf. You are declaring with your actions that you trust Him. That's why it's so important to feed your faith every day by spending time with Him. So today, make time to study His Word. Take time to bring your requests to Him. Then, go out with an attitude of expectancy and watch what God will do on your behalf!


Father God, I dedicate this day to You. Thank You for all the blessings You have prepared for me. I wait expectantly on You today knowing that You are working behind the scenes on my behalf. In Jesus' Name. Amen.


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Watch Birds in Action on YouTube

I suggest you visit the Cornell Lab's redesigned, expanded YouTube channel. Enjoy birding spectacles and insights from their staff about fascinating bird behaviors, or watch special clips chosen from the Macaulay Library's collection.

They're now featuring Gray Catbirds mimicking other birds, Snow Geese migrating, a battle between Sharp-tailed Grouse caught on high-speed video, and more. Watch now.

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Tips For Emergency Pet Situations

Watch the Video
For most pet parents, the mere prospect of a companion animal becoming sick or injured can be frightening. In the event of an emergency, many pet parents feel powerless to help, not knowing what to do to improve the likelihood of a good outcome. However, you are not powerless to assist, and with minimal preparation and some helpful knowledge, you can help your companion animal successfully navigate an emergency situation.
First of all, what constitutes an emergency? Many pet parents are unsure and often fail to seek appropriate treatment after an emergency, thus hampering your pet’s chance for a positive outcome. Conversely, some become anxious over a problem that may not need immediate attention. Reasons to seek immediate care for your companion animal include:
-profuse, bloody diarrhea or continuous vomiting
-abdominal swelling, restless behavior or retching (especially in large breed dogs)
-an inability to urinate (any species)
-consumption of poison, such as rat bait or antifreeze
-trauma, such as a car accident or injuries sustained from another animal (like a deep bite wound, etc.)
-breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, extending head or neck to breathe, or wheezing
-seizures, convulsions or fainting
-eye problems, such as foreign objects in the eye, loss of vision, squinting or sudden appearance of cloudiness in the eye
If your pet is experiencing any of these signs, you likely have an emergency and the most important thing for you to do is stay calm. Don’t panic! Your pet is likely frightened or experiencing pain, and will need calm and reassuring words from you. Be alert and breathe. Keep your eyes open and assess the situation. The more you know, the more you will be in control.
The second most important thing to do is be prepared. You often can’t prevent emergencies from happening, but you can help decide the outcome. Watch this video for more information as Dr. Sarah details the steps to take before and during an emergency situation. You may also want to print the PDF and retain Dr. Sarah’s Tips for Emergency Situations for future reference.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Newsletter - 5/15/10

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Hello Friends!

When you receive this we'll be on our way back from a spiritual retreat in Lithia, FL. We'll be stopping at natural areas and gardens to break up the highway time. I guess one of the reasons I love nice weather is that I can snap photos to my endless delight and walk forever more in the cool of the woods.

Yes, I will have photo links in the next issue for those who love to virtual travel. I do think of y'all when I travel. It makes me smile to know I have company with me because we both will be experiencing the same place even if it's only with photographs. Photos are a warming delight to me in the winter months.

Maybe you haven't seen some of the recent videos of our backyard wildlife habitat. One day when the birds were singing loudly, I filmed the woods a bit from the deck so the sound recorder could pick them up. I'm really loving these Springtime delights.

The Pileated Woodpeckers are ripping up our tree stumps placed around the property (from a tree that a neighbor cut down a couple years ago). They are huge birds and those long powerful bills can really rip off the bark in seconds flat and then that tongue begins licking up the bugs beneath it.  See him here: Bluebird Cove Videos - Our Little Wildlife Habitat

Springtime Blessings and Hugs,

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Don't Give Up Your Life

by Donna L. Watkins

How much of God is truly in us when we say we love God but find cause to not forgive another? We are each capable to doing such things and worse ... but for the grace of God. We all make choices and some people are prayed for, while others are not, so they live and operate totally in darkness. What do you expect from darkness other than dark works? We cannot afford not to forgive anybody of anything because it destroys us. We are judged in the same manner that we judge somebody else and we are left unforgiven when we do not forgive (Luke 6:37).

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Close Up of Moss in Forest
Jesus told us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39). We can't love others with our flesh. We need the power of God, a perspective of who we are in Him filled with His mercy and grace in our lives, and to love Him with all of our heart is to count His sacrifice of Jesus for us worthy enough to not discount it by having unforgiveness toward another.

We were created to love and serve others. We can't walk around saying we love God if we are not loving others. I John 4:20 says, "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen."

Nobody is determined, tenacious and tough enough to love somebody without the love of God in them. We can appear like we love them, but in reality you will know whether it is sincere by the fruit it bears. Outside of God, we cannot bear fruit for long. The fruits of the spirit are not easy in any way, but God never asks us to do anything we are not able to do, so He offers us Christ and the Holy Spirit as the Helper. We are the branches ... Jesus is the Vine. If we allow His pruning in our lives and lean into it, we will bear much fruit and feel so fruitful we won't be able to stop the overflowing joy and peace we gain from it. That is worth seeking.

A lot of fruit comes with a lot of pruning and that season of cold which is needed for trees to bear fruit. That season is bleak as winter, but we can't avoid the wintery wilderness times in our lives, so we may as well do what it takes to make them short. As we age with unprocessed hurts and wounds, they begin to weigh us down with depression and disease and despair. Do we really want to die that way? The generation of the Israelites that walked out of bondage in Egypt, walked into their own bondage of speaking against the promises of God.

They died in the wilderness. It was their choice. Don't make it your choice! Don't think that your stubborn and stiff-necked ways will produce anything more than what you are getting now. Pour yourself onto the altar of God and let Him burn away all the wood, hay and stubble and bring forth a heart of pure gold.

Find the promises that God gave you in the Bible and speak them over your life and over your day and over your sleep. You can speak words of life or words of death. God told Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." It not only changes your life but it will bring blessings into your children's lives also.

Jesus said, "It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh conveys no benefit whatever [there is no profit in it]. The words (truths) that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63). Think on and speak the words of blessings, not curses. Negative talk is filled with curses and negative expectations. Why not hope for all that God has for you! Don't leave the inheritance that Christ died to give you in the vault. Let go of the dead stuff and you'll find new life and victory! Don't be overcome with the devil's schemes ... rise up in Christ with His Word and be an overcomer!

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