Monday, August 30, 2010

Seeking Purpose

by Donna L. Watkins

Each of us has a purpose and destiny and that's what we seek to find when we get saved and accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. Sadly, many churches don't lead us down a path of discipleship. There seems to be more interest in numbers (members) than there is in doing what Jesus told us to do before He departed this earth ... make disciples.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Woodland Waterfalls - Table Rock State Park, Pickens, SC
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

God's focus is on making disciples, not converts and mega-churches. If we aren't taught the basic foundations of the spiritual walk we will be in big trouble when the storms of life arrive. Jesus told a parable about foundations comparing a house built on a rock compared to a house built on the sand.

If our spiritual foundations are not solid, we will wash away when the storms and waves come into our lives. God has provided enough grace to pass through all storms if we have built our house (spiritual life) on a rock.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Goose Near Tallahassee, FL
We are to be people of destiny, but we seem to live empty lives with continual battles that turn us inward and self-centered just trying to stay alive. Why is this? Is it because our foundations are built on sand? Many churches have become more focused on entertainment rather than Bible teaching and expounding on the meaning of Christ's death on the Cross for us. If we could but understand all that God has done for us, we would fear (reverence, respect and honor) the Lord and have wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). We would be able to see God as a holy and loving God who desires all good things for us.

Consider this review from Jim Graham on how he sees the current cultural attitudes toward God:

• There is a decline in the west of Biblical teaching. Tradition has resisted truth and human prejudices have replaced divine precepts.

• Disparagement of Biblical leadership. Theocracy (God-honoring) is replaced by Democracy (pagan-based) and worked out in a very human way. God's authority has been replaced by human approval.

• Lack of interest in those who are living and dying without God. Church focus on maintenance rather than vision. Visions for the "church gathered" but becomes vague about the "church scattered."

• Disparity between what we believe and how we believe. We want to be impeccable in our doctrine, but often we're inconsistent in our doing. Demand accuracy in preaching, but often display arrogance in practice.

• Dependance on the wrong things. Sometimes we depend on the building, political correctness, clergy or denominations.

• There's a defective understanding about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We tend to view Him with suspicion rather than surrender. We resist Him so often in so many areas of our lives rather than receive Him. We define Christianity by laws rather than the vibrant pulsing life of God by His Spirit.

• The church seems largely to have disappeared from the workplace. We've displayed a false and unbiblical dualism by dividing the sacred from the secular. So Monday morning has been separated from Sunday morning and our lives have become compartmentalized.

• Devaluation of worship. We've reduced it simply to singing. Singing is part of worship, but worship is about submission and surrender. About relationship that I have with God my Father as a result of God my Savior and my Lord.

• Disregard for prayer. Prayer is not me bringing God into my world to solve my problems. Prayer is God taking me into His world to serve His purposes. Prayer is not me getting God to do what I want. Prayer is not God getting me to do what He wants. Prayer is me getting God to do what God wants.

• Dishonesty in our commitment. We often make a profession in songs we sing that are not quite true and often lack integrity, and so often our honesty is impaired by the stuff we address to God.

Have we been deceived with the mentality that spiritual programs and business-by-the-book principles will take care of the hurting in our churches? Many churches are being run more like corporations than a place to meet with our God. Where is the worship and reverence of the "old" church? The "new" church seems to be more focused on the newest self-help workbooks, songs that move the crowds, and an atmosphere that you've walked into Barnes & Noble to enjoy a couple of hours of sit-down entertainment with your cup of coffee. Why do we think self-help books will fix us? Only God can dig deep into our souls to clean up the mess that life makes of us as we grow up and live life in a fallen world.

If the devil can keep us in religious workbooks trying to fix ourselves, he knows we have no hope of looking outward, since we are so focused on looking inward. When Jesus walked this earth, He didn't improve things, He fixed them. He's the same today and forever more. Only Jesus can fix us. Every thing else comes with a bit focus on improvement, rather than true healing. I heard one speaker last year who said he didn't go through a 12-step program, but had a one-step program with God touching His life and making him a different person.

That's what God wants to do for each of us, but I believe as long as we bury ourselves in all the methods, programs and fixes available for human nature to apply, we will not find our way to healing with 1,000 steps. All the while, the devil will continue to give you lots of ideas and rabbit trails to keep you from totally recognizing that life is not something we can do without Jesus. We must have God's mercy to get through it in peace and joy. Read The Book. All that is in there is true. We read something that seems to be impossible and chalk it off. After awhile the belief will be built up that the Bible isn't accurately interrupted or everything in it isn't for today. We justify our own way of living because it's the easy way out.

Easy or divine? Which way do you want it? I want to find God's true destiny for me and spend the rest of my days glorifying and honoring Him in all His glory.

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And I pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-18).

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Why Do Cats Purr?

by Dr. Jane Bicks

As a veterinarian, I am commonly asked “Why do cats purr?” Most people believe cats purr when they are content or happy. While cats do purr when they are content, researchers attempting to uncover the answer to this 3,000-year-old mystery are finding the answer more complicated than previously thought.

All domestic cats purr, as well as many wild cats, like pumas, ocelots, lions and cheetahs. Purring can occur in a variety of situations.

When cats purr in the presence of other unknown cats or kittens, the behavior may serve to convey submissiveness or a friendly greeting.

While it is true that cats purr contentedly while on their pet parent’s lap, they also purr when they give birth, when they are frightened, severely injured and even while dying. Because kitties clearly cannot be content in all these situations, contentment or friendliness cannot be the only reason they purr. So why else would they purr?

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Everyday Behaviors Producing Clean Energy

All Vibrations are good vibrations in the world of energy harvesting. Whether it's a road under heavy traffic or commuters pounding the sidewalk pavement, micromovements on any surface can be converted into clean energy by power-scavenging devices fitted with piezoelectric (PE) crystals.

These pressure-sensitive materials -- normally made of ceramics -- give off a small charge when 'squeezed, squashed, bent, or slapped,' explains Markys Cain, a materials scientist at the British National Physical Laboratory. ('Piezo,' by the way, is derived from the Greek for 'press' or 'squeeze.')

So a PE layer slotted beneath a supermarket parking lot could, for example, use the movement of customers' cars to power checkout conveyor belts or pump that free electricity back into the grid. Here's how these sparky substances will be turning vibrations into volts.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

How to Attract Beneficial Insects

As a gardener, there's nothing more frustrating than finding a prized vegetable crop being devoured by insect pests.

A couple of hornworms can level a row of tomatoes overnight. Fortunately, every pest has a predator, and we can use that natural food chain to our advantage. A sufficient number of beneficial insects will keep garden pests to manageable numbers.

You just have to know how to attract those beneficial insects to your garden. Get the details here.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Monday, August 23, 2010

Peace In The Midst of The Storm

"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping." Matthew 8:24, NIV

On a visit to Israel, I went to Galilee and saw the remains of a boat that had been unearthed after being buried in the sand on the shore of the lake, probably since around the time of Jesus. It was smaller than I’d imagined, so when I read again the story of the storm on the lake in Matthew Chapter 8, I could imagine how the waves would have been sweeping over the side of the boat during a storm. No wonder the disciples were alarmed.

But what was Jesus doing in this crisis? He was asleep in the boat. Was this because He didn’t care about the disciples and about what happened to them? Not at all. I believe that Jesus was able to sleep in the midst of the storm because He had complete peace. He trusted His Father and the protection He had from Him, and He also knew who He was and the authority He’d been given.

In response to the disciples’ cry for help, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” The problem was that their fear at that moment was greater than their faith. Fear robs us of the ability to stand in faith in the midst of storms, and it robs us of peace. In the crisis they had lost sight of who Jesus was. They had taken their eyes off Him and all they could see were the effects of the storm and the waves lashing over the side of the boat.

What about you today? I wonder what storms are raging in your life. Be encouraged that as we keep our eyes on Jesus and trust Him with every aspect of our lives, we will know His peace – the same kind of peace that enabled Jesus to sleep in the midst of the storm.

Lord, forgive me for taking my eyes off You and for focusing on the storms in my life. I know You can calm every storm. I trust You and ask You to give me Your peace now even in the midst of the storm. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Today's Writer:
Jilly Lyon Taylor Jilly Lyon Taylor is part of the Leadership Team at Ellel Pierrepont. She worked in publishing and then with children in Hong Kong before concentrating on being a full-time mother and serving in the local church. Her desire to see people healed led her to the Luke Nine Eleven Training Scheme(NETS) at Pierrepont, and now she teaches and ministers there.

Please feel free to use this devotional to send on to your friends or share with your church fellowship. Provided full acknowledgement is made to Seeds of the Kingdom as the source, you are also welcome to use it in a non-commercial way and reproduce it in magazines or other Christian websites. The copyright for any commercial use of the material remains with Ellel Ministries International.

To see archive copies or sign up to receive an email copy of this daily devotional please visit the Seeds of the Kingdom website.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

On Becoming 60, The Adventure Begins #1-5

by Donna L. Watkins

On September 3rd, this body will have been on earth for 60 years. That's been a difficult thing to grasp for the past few months and I don't know why. I haven't felt any bumps along the way to aging, such as going in to the 40's and 50's, but there's something about 60 that just seems too much to comprehend. Maybe because my mind still thinks I'm an adventuresome teenager ... and on my good days when the disease (rheumatoid arthritis) isn't controlling the day, I act like a teenager at times.

DLW - February 2009
Maybe it's the disease that makes me think age is now relative to my existence on earth ... or maybe it's that I've always thought I'd be able to do what I wanted on any day. Well ... regardless, age 60 is going to happen, and possibly before this body is totally healed.

Yes, I still believe in healing and believe there will be a day in time when my health will be fully restored. That's because Jesus healed all the time while he was on Earth, and He's the same today, yesterday and forever more. It's just a matter of digging into the Word and being obedient to God's commands and working through the illumination that the Holy Spirit gives.  It's also about letting God be God in my life and trusting in His timing for all things.

Psalm 103:2-5 has been a favorite for the past few years: "Praise the LORD, O my soul,and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

In the meantime, to get my focus off the number 60, I decided I was going to find 60 experiences that I've never had. That can mean new species that I've never seen and photographed (which was my #1 experience), or a place I've never been, or whatever is a new event for my life.  It may take me the entire year to do it, but it's a great change of focus for the number 60.  And I made the switch immediately, so I'm working on it before I become 60.

So, I'll be sharing those experiences with you, my sweet friends, but I also want to encourage anybody who has a problem with aging and/or living life with a dreadful disease, to keep the excitement in your life! Look for new blessings daily and focus on the things that aren't obvious, not the circumstances of what you can see. It really makes a difference with how the days end ... and begin again the next day.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Female Horace's Duskywing
Butterfly - Erynnis horatius - on Rudbekia Flower
Our thoughts produce hormones, good or bad, and those hormones can take away pain. Getting the fear out and the faith in is essential to living life well, whether you're sick or healthy.

Now for the beginning of the list of 60 new things ....

#1 of 60 - I've been watching the butterflies more closely since I decided to seek new species and this was a new one that arrived on our deck on July 22.

I first titled this as a Juvenal's Duskywing Butterfly, but later found out it is a female Horace's Duskywing.  So similar, but the real clue was in the time of its arrival.  It was too late for the Juvenal's Duskywing.

The host plants for this butterfly, where the female lays its eggs and the caterpillars feed, are red and white oaks.  The forest behind us is certainly full of oaks, but I have never noticed this butterfly before.  I suppose the less colorful butterflies don't attract our attention as much, although the pattern on this butterfly is certainly beautiful.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Male Horace's Duskywing
Butterfly - Erynnis horatius - on Rudbekia Flower
#2 of 60 - Nine days later, on July 31, I photographed another butterfly and after getting an official ID on it, discovered it was a Male Horace's Duskywing Butterfly.  Gee whiz!  Guess this guy also thought the female duskywing was very beautiful.

The female will deposit the eggs on new growth of a host plant so the caterpillars have young leaves to feed on.  They won't be turning into butterflies this year though ... they will hibernate over the winter to come forth and enjoy our habitat's blooms next year.

They obviously enjoy the Black-eyed Susans on our deck.  The adults (butterflies) also feed on Goldenrod, which we have plenty of in our habitat.

How exciting to be able to know some of the things going on in the trees of the forest.  It's amazing how many 'wild things' have been attracted to our deck garden.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Tadpoles a Few Days Old
 #3 of 60 - On August 2nd I discovered the bird bath had a bunch of seeds in it ... but it wasn't near anything for seeds to fall into it.  I put my fingers in to inspect them and realized they were tadpoles because some of the "gel" that they are laid within was still intact.  This is their first meal when they "hatch."

A few days later I took this photograph from which I could now tell for certain they were tadpoles with a macro shot on the camera setting.

They were moving about eating the algae from the bird bath, which I purposely did not clean after finding the eggs, since that's their main source of food to grow on.  We have a small pond not far out from the deck, but it's got a few mature resident Green Frogs ... who love tadpoles for snacks.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins
Eastern Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles Eating Spirulina
I assume they are Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles because we have a male (only the males sing) who spends months on our deck singing away for a female every year.  We enjoy this greatly even though they are like the Carolina Wrens of the frog world.  Small frog, big voice.

This was a first for the female to actually lay eggs on the deck.  And it's certainly a first for me to raise tadpoles to frogs.

I made a "bucket pond" for the tadpoles to grow in and I'm hoping it's not too late in the season for them to complete the process which takes from 45 to 65 days.  Randal now calls me Mama Tad since I check on the tadpoles morning and night and feed them capsules of Spirulina.  They're getting fatter all the time, but are still in the stage of eating vegetation rather than meat sources.  More details on this story.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Black Nightshade Blooms
#4 of 60 - One of our deck pots that we planted the Bell Peppers in had a plant I'd not seen before, so I decided to let it grow to see if it was something beneficial.

When a plant blooms, it's much easier to identify it since most of my books show plants while flowering, or are totally organized by the color of the flower.  That doesn't mean I get to identify everything I try for, but it does make it easier if the plant blooms.

On August 6th, I discovered we had a Black Nightshade plant that would produce berries for the birds.  How exciting!  The funny thing is that Bell Peppers are also of the nightshade family.  Since I planted the peppers in the biodegradable containers they were purchased in, the plant couldn't have come with the pepper since it wasn't rooted within the boundary of the container.

I delight in any plants that feed the birds, but Black Nightshade can be a noxious weed since it produces a multitude of tiny seeds that will take over an area, besides spreading by root too.  So, I won't place this one in the ground, but I'll let it grow on the deck to see how many berries it actually produces and how eager the birds are to have them.  Various berries provide varying amounts of nutrition for a bird, so it's interesting to see how they will rate it.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Female Zabulon Skipper
Butterfly on Black-eyed Susan Leaf
#5 of 60 - Butterflies have been abundant this year, so I'm excited to have found another new one, on August 7th, that I've never seen and photographed.  A female Zabulon Skipper Butterfly (Poanes zabulon).  I thought she was very pretty with the fluffed up hairdo and colorful antennae ... and what about those big brown eyes?

Skippers are named for their erratic, rapid flight.  They differ a bit from most butterflies since they have larger bodies, smaller wings and "clubs" on their antennae.  They are one of the most difficult to identify, so I had to inquire of a local specialist on butterflies.

Their host plant is grasses.  We don't have much grassy habitat, but we have left some of the wild grasses grow in a few areas, so it's nice to see that small piece of our habitat is beneficial ... assuming that this butterfly actually "hatched" here on our property.  It could've flown in from elsewhere.  I always like to think of things being born here.  The Story Continues ...

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Rare Black Bear Quintuplets

Black bears typically have two cubs (rarely one or three), with five exceedingly rare. So Sears was shocked when he heard reports that a female black bear had 5 cubs in the early spring of 2008.

For 4 hours a day, 7 days a week for six weeks that spring Sears sat outside poised and ready to get a shot of all five together. (Mind you, this is all taking place in New Hampshire. In the winter. So sitting outside for hours on end takes some serious devotion to your craft, not to mention a serious parka and boots).

Finally, Sears was able to capture his shot (see above) of the family in action. Then he left the bears alone, not wanting to attract too much attention or get them used to people. Read the entire article and see the photos.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Help Butterflies: Cater to Caterpillars

My family hosted a Labor Day picnic last year, but it wasn’t just neighbors who turned out for the feast. That afternoon we spotted monarch caterpillars munching on common milkweed plants in our garden. In the weeks that followed, we delighted in watching them grow, pupate and emerge from their chrysalides as adults.

I’d like to think that these butterflies migrated safely to their winter home in Mexico, but even if they did, they were part of the smallest overwintering monarch population ever, says Monarch Watch director Chip Taylor, who attributes the low number in large part to habitat loss. A trio of harsh winter storms may have further reduced the group’s size by at least half, according to scientists’ estimates.

While Taylor suspects it may take several years for the species to rebound, you can play a part in the monarch’s recovery if you live in an area where the insect breeds. “Having caterpillar plants in your garden means butterflies are more likely to linger and explore possible sites to lay eggs,” says the staff at Monarch Watch. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spirit of Unity

From Joel and Victoria Osteen.

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus" (Romans 15:5, NIV)

Do you find that you are surrounded by people all the time, but yet you still feel disconnected? In your family, is everyone going in different directions, always busy, always doing their own thing? I've found that we really have to make a conscious effort to walk and live in unity with the people in our lives and not allow distractions to pull us apart.

Walking in a spirit of unity goes beyond just getting along, it's about going the extra mile to support one another and lift each other up. If you want to get the most out of life, you've got to draw a line in the sand and say, "I'm going to slow down and connect with the people I love. I'm not going to take my relationships for granted."

Start today by calling a friend or family member that you haven't talked to in a while. Reach out to them and let them know they are important. Make time to have dinner as a family and support each other's activities. When you walk and live in unity, you bless the Lord and open the door for His supernatural blessing in your own life in return!


Father in heaven, thank You for the relationships in my life. Help me find creative ways to connect with the people I love. Help me to walk and live in a spirit of unity as You commanded. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Living Cheap Is Happy

Spending is out, simplicity's in. Why the nation's thriftiest people are also the happiest.

Frugality, formerly an everyday virtue, hasn't gotten much respect in recent decades. Yet when the stock-market crash of 2008 pushed a stalled economy into the Great Recession, bam!—suddenly thrift was in vogue again. A recent Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of us would rather save money than spend it, up from 48 percent in 2001.

Being a cheapskate is my chosen profession, come by honestly from a boyhood in the farmlands of Ohio—where you learn to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without—and 24 years running nonprofit groups.

In the spring of 2008, as the Dow seesawed, I crisscrossed the country on a 30-year-old bicycle to research my second book, The Cheapskate Next Door. I had surveyed more than 300 of my "Miser Advisers" - a network of superthrifty folks I've developed—about their financial habits, and I wanted to take a closer look at them. I met near-millionaires and people who earned so little they could qualify for public assistance but chose not to - they had more than enough to live as they wished. What they all had in common: they've found ways to be wealthy that don't depend on earning more cash or buying more things.

That's right—the reality of the frugal life upends stereotypes. These aren't latter-day Scrooges, though I've yet to meet one who doesn't sport apparel dating to the Carter administration, or earlier. For its adherents, thrift is more about knowing what you cherish, then skipping the rest. Read more stories from the richest thrifty people.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

EPA Alert to Dangers of Flea-Tick Products

In April of last year, the EPA issued an advisory about “spot-on” chemical products. These are products applied to the neck or back of dogs and cats as a flea and tick preventive.

The advisory was issued due to a significant increase in reported adverse reactions -- everything from mild skin irritation to seizures and death. In 2008, over 44,000 reactions presumed to be tied to spot-on products were reported by pet owners, veterinarians and other animal caretakers.

Common sense and the first-hand experience of people who have used the products points to the extremely high likelihood that 44,000 reports in a single year do indeed link application of the products with adverse reactions.

And in fact, the 44,000 reported incidents in 2008 is a significant jump from 28,000 the prior year, and includes 600 deaths.

The risks of these products are simply too great to warrant their routine (monthly) use. I encourage my dog and cat owner clients to avoid these pesticides in favor of safer alternatives. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Natural Insect Control Works Better

Early on, I thought natural insect control meant using an “organically approved” insecticide, such as rotenone, to defeat leaf-eating insects — especially my arch-nemesis, the Colorado potato beetle. I dusted my potato patch several times a season in a struggle to keep the beetle’s exploding population in check, barely managing to bring in the crop. But as I learned more about the ecology of insects such as ladybeetles, lacewings, praying mantises and assassin bugs — what some call “the good guys” — I worried that blasting away with a powder intended to kill might not be doing them any good either.

One spring I vowed to use no rotenone at all in my potato patch, even if it meant losing the crop. I was amazed to find only five potato beetles on my potato plants during the entire season. I took that as luck-of- the-draw seasonal fluctuation — until I bumped into my neighbor across the road, whose garden was less than 70 yards from my own. “My, my,” she wailed, “ain’t these potato bugs just awful. I dust, and I dust, and I dust — and I’m still out here every day, picking ’em off by hand!”

That was my epiphany about the true nature of the teeming insect community around me, and my garden’s relationship to it. From that moment, I have never used a granule of toxin — however reputedly benign — to deal with insect challenges in my garden and orchard. I now find the potato beetle to be one of the easiest insect competitors to deal with. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Newsletter - 8/15/10

Bookmark and Share

Hello Friends!

We had a gorgeous sunrise a couple weeks back. It was breathtaking with the vivid orange colors and the cloud patterns above it. Take a moment to experience the thought of another new day dawning ... view the sunrise.

Our little deck garden of pots sitting all around it has been so entertaining. We have the plants up there that the deer will eat if they're in the ground. That was the reason we began putting pots on the deck, but the reason we continue is the delightful show of birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, skinks, tree frogs and even squirrels for their daily drink. Get the whole story on the post, Build a Deck Garden.

Donna and Randal in Greenville, SC
Bubble Tea (Green Tea) from O-CHA Tea Bar
My sweet husband, Randal, completed the immense job of chipping a couple of fallen dead trees and a collection of branches over the past nine years. It produced a huge pile of mulch which he spread around the front and side property about 4 inches deep on our paths. He had 45 big-orange-tub wheelbarrow loads. It was a major task and we're very happy it's done. The paths look so inviting ... view the slide show and take a stroll through our habitat.

I so wish I could stroll about God's Creation with each of you! I've had some subscriber visitors over the years and it's been such a joy. I love having an extra set of eyes as I walk about looking for hidden treasure and wisdom.

At the top of the list of my excitement these days is the tree frog tadpoles I found in the birdbath one morning. The next day I found more in the saucers under a couple of pots. After many of them died in the birdbath from the hot sun the following day, I cried and immediately studied about raising tadpoles. You see, we have some big Green Frogs in our little garden pond, so I didn't want to dump them in there for them to have a snack, so I set up a "bucket pond" to be able to view them in the growing process.

I'm taking pictures so you can enjoy the excitement too. I've already made a beginning of the story post with a few pictures: Eastern Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles in Birdbath

Since I'm turning 60 next month and having a hard time believing I'm actually that age, I decided to do 60 things that I've never done before as a distraction of pondering the aging process. So I'll be sharing about how that's coming along in the next issue. One of the things I will include in the 60 things is any new species that I've not seen and photographed before. So these days I've really got a quick eye to check out everything that moves!

I hope you're watching what's going on in your own backyard also ... or in a nearby park. Take the time to slow down and tune in ... it's good for your health. Read about the Benefits of Outdoor Exercise.

Love, Hugs and Lots of Blessings!

New Posts Since Last Issue of Newsletter

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Build a Deck Garden - Birds, Frogs, Butterflies and More (DLW)

Eastern Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles in Birdbath (DLW)

Leaning Into God (DLW)

Eco Friendly and Regular Drapes - Factory Direct

Parrots With New Intelligence

Pet ALERT! Evamist Hormone Spray

Creation Devotions

Alicia Silverstone Green Beauty Products and More

Preschools in Forests

Why Pets Help Kids

America's State Parks

Studies Bolster Marriage Commitment

Previous Posts You May Have Missed

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always 

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:

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

There is no debating the health benefits of daily exercise. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health all agree that we need at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day.

The good news is that you don't have to work out in a gym to get in shape. Outdoor exercises are just as effective, can be more fun, and have some appealing advantages. Outdoor fitness can be a structured exercise program that takes advantage of the natural terrain of the outdoors to get you in shape, or it can be as simple as taking a brisk walk outside.

Outdoor fitness can take many forms: Raking leaves, for example, is considered moderate physical activity. If you weigh about 135 pounds, you can burn close to 250 calories by raking leaves for an hour.

Whichever way you choose to exercise outside, there are numerous benefits, besides no membership fees.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Eastern Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles in Birdbath

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins
Eastern Gray Tree Frog
Click Photo to View
For years we've had a "deck garden" because the deer would eat many of the plants we enjoyed before moving here, so we decided to pot them and place them on the deck to save them.

What we didn't realize was that we were creating a small wildlife habitat that would attract many species over the years. For more on deck gardens, see the post: Build a Deck Garden - Birds, Frogs, Butterflies and More

A couple of weeks ago the Eastern Gray Tree Frogs were especially loud one night. We couldn't go to sleep for laughing at their loud screeching competitive calls to the females. A few days later I was going to wash and fill the birdbath, but found 70-80 tiny tadpoles in it. I initially thought they were seeds but quickly remembered the frog calls and after taking macro photos realized they were tadpoles.

I was very excited since I love to discover new things on our deck garden and this was definitely new. We'd had the tree frogs there for years, but never found any eggs or tadpoles before.

The Bucket Pond
5 Gallon Bucket with Pond Water & Plants

The day after I discovered them I found that most of them had died from the previous day's heat, but there were still about 30 swimming around, so I quickly went for a 5-gallon white bucket and filled it halfway with water from our pond. The reason I didn't put the tadpoles into our pond is because we have several adult Green Frogs in there and they would've just considered it a morning snack.

I studied up online for the best conditions and decided that I'd have a go at seeing how many tree frogs I could raise from the batch. As I was putting in the ones that had survived, I also noticed more tadpoles in the saucers under the two pots of bell peppers we had on the deck. I included them in the "bucket pond" and took some plants from the big pond to shade the water during the sunny times of day and because I'd read that they will nibble on duckweed.

When the tadpoles begin to show growth of legs, they transition from vegetarian to carnivorous. If they don't have enough food they will eat tadpoles, so I plan to provide a bit of cooked crumbled egg as suggested on one website. Being vegetarian myself, I don't have meat, but I do have mealworms in dried form that should provide a source of protein.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins
Tadpoles About 12 Days Old
Click Photo to View
Note:  I've learned more since beginning the project.  They require a certain amount of water ....  Read update about the Eastern Gray Tree Frog.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Build a Deck Garden - Birds, Frogs, Butterflies & More

by Donna L. Watkins

When we realized that the deer loved some of our favorite plants as much as we did, we decided to put them in pots and make a "deck garden" so we wouldn't be without the blooms we enjoyed so much.

Click photo for full-size version
Our little deck garden of pots sitting all around it has been so delightful. The deer don't climb the five steps to the deck so we've been very happy with the decision. What we didn't realize is how entertaining it would be. We have the plants up there that the deer will eat if they're in the ground. The initial reason was the deer, now it's simply for the thrill of the "suddenly shows" that are presented throughout the day.

The cast includes birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, skinks, tree frogs, a variety of bugs and even squirrels for a daily drink. This year we even have tadpoles in a bucket pond.

That story is being shared on the post:  Tree Frog Tadpoles on Deck in Bucket Pond

The deck is beside our breakfast area in the kitchen so we can watch the show from morning to night as we eat. Better than that, my desk is right by the window facing the deck, so I can enjoy the show any time I'm working. Of course, my camera sits by me at all times.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - American Goldfinch Male on Black-eyed Susan
Click photo to view video.
It's a very simplistic way to enjoy a wide diversity of species with each year bringing something new to this mini-habitat. After giving up on growing any vegetables many years ago because the squirrels were worse than the deer on eating them, we tried a couple of pots of bell peppers this year on the deck and even they have done great. It's been fun to harvest them for lunch and smile at each other as we bite into something we grew ourselves.

This year we ran a source of water for a short hose to make watering so much easier than dragging gallon jugs out there daily. It's a south-facing deck which does get shade in the afternoon because the wood's edge is only 6 feet from the deck, but we have thirsty plants.

Many of my photos are from the deck delights and they are in the Bluebird Cove Critters and Garden albums. Over the past couple of years I've enjoyed playing around a bit with the video feature of my camera. They are all in the Videos album, but I thought I'd share links to the ones I've recently taken within the last five weeks.

Links to Videos From the Deck Garden
(except for the admiral butterflies on the black willow beside the front porch)

Bee Drinking Nectar on Phlox

Tadpoles Only a Few Days Old from Eastern Gray Tree Frog in Birdbath

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth Feeding on Phlox

American Goldfinch Female Eating Seeds from Black-eyed Susans

American Goldfinch Male Eating Seeds from Black-eyed Susans

Butterfly - Tattered Female Red-spotted Purple Admiral

Butterfly - Red-spotted Purple Admiral Battling Flies

Butterflies - Red-spotted Purple Admirals with Flies and Wasp

Butterflies - Variety of Species on Joe Pye Weed, a Native Wildflower

Butterfly - Great Spangled Fritillary Feeding on Joe Pye Weed

Butterfly - Spicebush Swallowtail on Phlox

If you don't think you can do much for wildlife with a little bit of space, please reconsider.  Even with an apartment balcony you can attract a lot of fascinating things that will make you smile and connect with the created world that God made for our enjoyment.  Get more information on creating a wildlife habitat at National Wildlife Federation.

I often get asked what kind of camera I have: Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

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:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leaning Into God

by Donna L. Watkins

This year has been a time when God has called me apart from many things to increase my time with Him. I kept hearing, "Lean in" and "Come Apart." Some days during my time with the Lord, I journal what I feel the Lord is saying to me, and for two months I would hear this emphasis, until I knew I would be disobedient not to change my life to what God was asking of me. Not that He would love me any less. He gave us free will which means we always have a choice to go with our own will or His will.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Great Crested Flycatcher in Live Oak Tree, Mepkin Abbey

When we accept Jesus as Savior, we turn over our lives to Him and seek to do His will, knowing that it is the best plan for our lives. After all ... have you ever put something together without the directions only to find you have some leftover parts ... or maybe the item doesn't work the way you put it together? We can use our own will ... or we can follow the directions of the maker of the thing.

 Common sense dictates we follow directions of the One who made us ... but our pride sometimes gets the best of us ... and we suffer the consequences.

In Deuteronomy 30 God gives us choices. He says He offers us life or death, blessings or curses. We get to choose. God is not an angry God waiting for us to mess up so He can slap us. He's a loving God who desires the best for us (His directions), as we do our children. He created many beautiful things for us to enjoy so when we look at something He made we will glorify Him (not the created thing itself).

So, we know God is a loving God not only by what He made for us to enjoy, but because He gave His only Son to redeem us back from Adam's free will choice of giving his authority over to Satan, who is called the "god of this world." God so longs to have relationship with us. He made man in His image and gave us free will so we could choose relationship with him, just as our children choose to obey or not.

Yes, God disciplines because He is a Good and Perfect Father. If your two-year old child decided to run outside and play in the street every time you turned away, the odds are that they would eventually be killed, so you discipline them as a loving parent so they don't do what will kill them. God does the same thing, so we don't die spiritually, emotionally or physically. He wants us to be healthy and full of peace and joy, but as anybody knows a rebellious child (or adult) is never truly a happy child. You can see the misery on their face. And when we rebel with wrong choices, the misery is evident in our own lives also, whether it's mental anguish or physical symptoms.

God could've created a world of beings without free will and programmed it all to run the way He wanted, but how gratifying would it be to have robots for children? They would always be obedient and do exactly what you wished and wanted ... but there would be no relationship, which would make it a very lonely existence. So ... God loved and by getting to know more and more Truth about Him, we can love in the same manner. Not only Him, but ourselves and others around us.

I John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." If God is love, and we are made in His image, then we have the capacity to love as God loves. WOW! That sure struck me hard. The Scripture is very plain. If we do not love, we do not know God. We can easily deceive ourselves of many things.

A friend of mine began a heavy exercise program to lose weight, but realized after a couple of months with no loss, that they had also increased the amount of food eaten to make up for the "extra work" they were doing with the exercise. We are blinded to many things when we lean towards rules and religion and not relationship.  The devil is a thief only desiring to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

In the Bible the word for that kind of love is "agape." Agape love never manipulates others and is never less than truthful and honest. It's not a "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" type of relationship, which is also called a co-dependent relationship. It's a focus on others, just as God focused on us with agape love when He sacrificed His Son to die for our sins, so we could live in the Kingdom of God and not be under the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31).

In Kingdom living we are to honor others above ourself (Romans 12:10). That takes great humility, which means that pride has to go. That's tough when our whole world is shouting for us to be on top of the ladder no matter how many people you knock off to get there. It's "all about me" in this generation of over-achievers and workaholics.

The world doesn't give much for our "grab it all with gusto" lifestyles. Headlines change daily and fame is like a fleeting vapor. Purchases provide only a few days or weeks of gratification and titles bring applause for a short period of time. Proverbs 29:23 says that a man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-19; 16:5).

When we begin to lean into God and spend more and more time with Him, He will gently point out the prideful areas of our lives. You'll be surprised at how many there are! Pride is a huge, thick wall that separates us from a Holy God. Masses of Christians these days say they don't hear God's voice. 

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Kilgore-Lewis Gardens, Greenville, SC

Personally, I've wanted quick and snappy answers to my questions over the years. I guess you could picture that the way some households are these days with both parents working and everybody feeling like they are ships passing in the night with just a few light signals to know each other is there. Sticky notes on the refrigerator, emails, voice mail and text messages. No time for relationships ... just enough minutes to get information back and forth. God's time is not the world's time.

When we dig deep into His Word, there are many things God says to us because He desires to spend time with us. One of the Scriptures that jumped out at me in the beginning of this come-apart journey was Isaiah 30:15. The New American Standard version says this, "... In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength. But you were not willing." Israel relied on their own strength as we tend to do.

Many of us were raised with a strong work ethic and believe the "I can" mindset is always a good thing. It is not. Jesus even said that His yoke was easy (Matthew 11:30) and called us to come unto Him and He would give us rest (Matthew 11:28). We have drifted so far from the open hands of God with our self-reliant nature, even as a Nation.

Didn't Jesus say we had to come as little children? Do little children get covered up with details and lists and tasks and worries? Nope! They just trust in parents ... and sometimes that's not a good memory. If we were betrayed as children, we have a harder time trusting God ... but hard or not, the only way to deliverance is through surrender and trust. It's the focus of salvation ... to give our very life to Jesus. Of course, some may have repeated words in exchange for a ticket to heaven when we die, but God intended for salvation to provide a way to live with peace and joy in this life, on this earth, if we give our lives to Him.

Have you been leaning in? Do you come apart every day to be with Him ... or just come apart trying to juggle it all? Join me on the journey. I assure you there are no tasks that provide real comfort and satisfaction. Shopping, eating, to do lists, internet relationships, gadgets and stuff, brand names and titles are expensive and fleeting moments of happiness. Happiness is based on something good happening. Joy is based on a fulfillment within. Only Jesus satisfies.

Recommended Reading

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:

This Blog is Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Share This Post