Monday, January 30, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

by Donna L. Watkins

Some of you have been aware that I've had some serious breathing and heart problems, but have avoided getting into the medical treadmill on it.

I want to thank you for your concern and kindness to me in emails. It's times like these that make you aware of the true blessings in your life and at the top of the list is friendships. Because I'm not spending much time on the computer, I thought a blog post would be the best way to communicate to all what is going on.

After losing so much sleep and getting to the point where I could barely breathe at all, we were at the clinic when the doors opened on Friday. There's a Christian doctor that began this clinic who I've been seeing annually for blood work so I can get a continued prescription for the natural thyroid glandular that I take.

I had been in on Wednesday for blood work since I felt my thyroid was low, and he requested that we do a CBC and a Chem Profile since he was concerned about the atrial fibrillation (one of my symptoms) and severe shortness of breath.

He called on Thursday to tell me that the blood tests came out perfect, other than the thyroid which did indicate it was low. He recommended a chest x-ray and EKG which I refused. He had even contacted a Christian cardiologist that was "up on" herbs to tell me what alternatives might work best. God is awesome and I've seen Him meet me through this doctor who is truly in the field of medicine because of his love of people.

I didn't sleep at all Thursday night so I was ready for the chest x-ray when the clinic opened. The results showed a lot of fluid on both lungs, so talk of going to ER ensued to drain off the fluid and get the heart rate under control, but ER was not a consideration for me. A little background on my avoidance of the medical world ....

When I was in my teens and 20's I had various health issues and not-so-good experiences in the realm of doctors and hospitals. In my 30's my parents (actually grandparents who raised me) both died from hospital errors. The doctor was very up front with me. I often wonder if it was because this was too common at this hospital and he wanted somebody to sue. We're not into the government fighting our battles. God handles such things with much more peace.

Having been trained in the natural health realm and alternative therapies, it's been easy to avoid the necessity of doctors along the way, but when you get into a crisis where you can't think clearly (lack of oxygen) and physical exhaustion is involved, it's hard to gain any ground. I also realize there's a balance between the two realms of the herbal kingdom and the medical way of doing things. The problem is that most doctors are not willing to work with you unless you blindly follow their recommendations.

The heron is vigilant about noticing movements in the water,
as we should be to noticing movement in the spirit as we heal.
That was not the case in my situation last week. Dr. William G. Talbott at First Med did a lot of legwork so that I could avoid ER and got me in to see a cardiologist within two hours. Let me say right away that Randal and I were both amazed at the kindness, openness and consideration we got from Dr. Anna Baer and her staff at Cardiologists Associates. There were no condescending attitudes and a definite willingness to work with me in any way that I wanted to go.

I agreed to the EKG and ultrasound, but with each test the diagnosis got worse. Surgery was recommended as the only real solution to the problem, since progressive heart failure would occur. Of course, initially moving the fluid off the lungs was critical, and I agreed to the drug (generic Lasix) for that, confirming that I could switch to an herbal diuretic when I got relief with the breathing. I took that as soon as I got home with no problems.

To regulate the heartbeat (atrial fibrillation aka afib) another drug was prescribed (Metoprolol). The one-half of the low-dose tablet that I took later that evening turned into a nightmare experience. If I hadn't read the possible side effects I would've thought I was going to die or at the very least lose my mind. All I remember is rolling and groaning for 7 hours. My husband said that I was delirious, but we made it through, and afterwards with enough fluid moved off, I was able to sleep which was a huge blessing.

The overall cause of all of this (pulmonary and afib) stemmed from the mitral valve being ineffective. It was not operating as it should and was heavily leaking (known as mitral valve regurgitation). I've had symptoms for many years so it's been a process to get to this advanced state of affairs.

The left atrium has already enlarged trying to keep up with the regurgitated blood flow, and of course, the concern of blood clots as blood pooled there created the recommendation of Coumadin since aspirin would not be potent enough. I've heard enough about Coumadin to decline that.

In all of this, even through the initial shock of all the negative words, I stayed focused on the fact that this is a report of my physical body. I am body, soul and spirit, so it's only a partial picture of the possibilities. Randal and I both agreed that the "last word" was not within the medical realm, but within the heavenly realms.

One very cool God thing that the Holy Spirit reminded me of .... when I reviewed the blood test results I noticed that one item was out of line and the doctor hadn't mentioned it. It was "Platelet Count" which has a normal range of 130-400. My result was 129 so you can see why he still considered all the blood work perfect. However, what that showed me is that my body was already on the VERY low end of platelets which would make clotting less likely. That was a God moment for me, although the entire time on Friday was obviously guided by God since I was in a realm of total discomfort physically and emotionally. But, as stated, not at all increased any by the doctors or medical techs.

With this fact, I feel I can manage the clotting factor with an herbal alternative, so now it's a matter of finding something that will regulate the arrhythmia.

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run,
and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Randal and I both agree that we are going the way of The Word in this matter. We've been deep in Bible study for a couple of years now and one thing I have decided is to either believe God's Word and stop trying to justify it to work with what my flesh wants to do at times. We are spirit beings with a fleshly body, but our spirit is to rule. The problem is that we have allowed our soul to rule for way too long and now the body is used to responding to our mind, will and emotions, rather than what the spirit says within us.

True doctors (those in the profession by calling and not as a business choice) have a grand place in our world to relieve pain and aid the body to harness the power of healing that is there. Yes, drugs have their place, even though they were created more for the patent-earning income than for balance within the body.

In Asia I am told they combine drugs with herbal medicines to counter-balance the side effects. God's herbal kingdom has a built-in balance, which is why herbs are so much safer to use. You can't patent an herb ... it was made by God, so drug companies have to take out the active constituent to get a patent for the billions of dollars to be made.

So, back to choosing God's Word for healing. Isaiah 53:5 prophesied of Jesus bringing healing and I Peter 2:24 tells us that "by His stripes we WERE healed." I've learned many interpretations of this over the years depending on the denominational churches we were in, but when you go back to the Greek, it's obvious that this is physical healing. The word for salvation (sozo) also includes physical healing, so any time you see the word salvation, it includes healing.

That shouldn't be so hard to understand since Jesus healed ALL while He was here ... at least all who would believe. It required belief from the person also, which is why the Bible says He couldn't heal in His own hometown.

"Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith." Mark 6:4-6

More on healing and many other Scriptures that reveal the Truth.

Either I believe "By His stripes I WAS healed" or not. My needed surgery is actually in the renewing of my mind as we were commanded to do in Romans 12:2. In time the herbs will also build and strengthen until my full healing is manifested. We all have a measure of faith from God, and Jesus says that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. The problem comes in when we mix our faith with our unbelief. All those years of wrong teaching.

God's promises are always true and He promises we will be taken care of ... better than the lilies of the field :-) Under the shadow of the Almighty. An awesome place to dwell. We are told oodles of times not to fear and that's what the media is consistently trying to get us to do ... along with the "power" of the medical world. To see the glass half-empty so we will doubt that God has REALLY provided for us (same temptation Satan used with Eve).

I believe we "bring on" so many of our troubles by what we think. I see it so clearly in my own life. Somewhere the message was implanted that I wasn't worthy or good enough for all that God has given .. and all that was provided for on the Cross. My flesh still wants to "work" its way to heaven by DOING something to earn my way. It's a battle we are waging war against every day. I look back and find that I made choices that made my life more difficult in many ways. It's like I thought making things harder would produce some kind of good results. It's the spirit of legalism and religion that makes us think that we need to add to what Jesus did.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ.' Ephesians 1:3

Deuteronomy tells us that disease and sickness are curses. Nowhere in the Bible is disease called a blessing and nowhere does our New Covenant in Christ use disease as a lesson to teach us something. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." God doesn't need disease to teach us. I certainly swallowed that wrong teaching down for so many years until I thought about it.

What father would strike their child with disease to teach them something. Would you let a child run into the street and be hit by a car so he learns not to do that? Would you allow a toddler to place its hands on a hot stove? "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:11

Do you believe a God that would sacrifice His own Son to bring us back into personal relationship with Him could strike us with disease? I've also believed that Satan is the author of disease but he first has to get permission from God. Well, I no longer believe that Satan is God's messenger boy. He's evil and Hell itself was made for him and his angels, so God isn't using Satan to perform His work on earth.

God is a good God and Father. We humans can't stump Him up. I know that I don't believe many things the Word tells me. At least not in my heart. I've got head knowledge on a lot of things, but not revelation to implement the Truth after so many years of having untruth fed in. And that untruth still resides as belief until my mind is totally renewed with the Word.

So it's what I think that will make my life what it is. What I believe shapes my life, so it's not God who's messing up, it's me. How many times did Jesus say, "Only believe" during His time on earth. It's because we are spirit, soul and body. Our body responds to either our soul's instructions or our spirit's. And that choice is made by us, whether we have disciplined ourselves to choose the Word above what we see with our physical senses.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour
We can believe that we have BEEN healed. All was provided to us in the spiritual realm. We are spirit, made in the image of God, living in a body. The challenge is walking by the spirit and not the flesh. Believing what God has done rather than what we see.

 In John 3:6 Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." What Jesus was saying was, flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. You cannot perceive the spirit through the senses of the flesh. They are totally different worlds, or realms, of reality.

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."  Romans 8:6

The carnal mind cannot understand the spiritual realm. And carnal isn't just sin. Strong's Concordance shows us the meaning of the word carnal (or flesh as in some translations):

4561 sárks
flesh ("carnal"), merely of human origin or empowerment - is generally negative, referring to making decisions (actions) according to self – i.e. done apart from faith (independent from God's inworking). Thus what is "of the flesh (carnal)" is by definition displeasing to the Lord – even things that seem "respectable!" In short, flesh generally relates to unaided human effort, i.e. decisions (actions) that originate from self or are empowered by self. This is carnal ("of the flesh") and proceeds out of the untouched (unchanged) part of us – i.e. what is not transformed by God.

Therefore I am choosing life through the spirit. Romans 8:6 says, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Sounds like good results. Yes, it's not easy work. For whatever reason, it's not initially easy to spend hours and hours in the Word until you get your mind so full that it will continue to feed on the Word no matter where you are or what you're doing.

The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing" in I Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is communication with God, most of which is thanksgiving for what He's already done, and praising Him for the Word, His Truth, as you meditate on it day and night. When you see with your spiritual eyes, you will know that You've Already Got It, so there's no need to beg God for it.

It's a matter of revelation as Paul spoke of when he wrote to the Ephesians (chapter 1) that he was praying for them. Notice his prayers weren't for God to fix things. He knew things had already been provided for through Christ, so his prayer was that they would be able to receive them.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 1:17-20

Note that we have the same power within us that raised Christ from the dead. This is the power that works what the medical world calls "miracles." Where the body doesn't go the route of the diagnosis or prognosis, but instead something from the inside out occurs and a person is totally healed.

 There are many such amazing stories and they need not be considered as good for somebody else, but not applying to ourself. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  You can view many healing journeys on Andrew Wommack's website as I have.  Hearing other people's healing stories builds belief that we can heal also.

I've placed a number of links in this post, but if you've got a healing need, I pray that you would begin with this one so you can understand first and foremost that God Wants You Well.

Again, thank you for your friendship, love and kind words. My online friends are very special to me!

Updates Posted Since:
My Visit To The Emergency Room  (3/3/12)
A Heart Set On Healing  (7/13/12)
Jesus Healed All and Has Healed Me  (7/30/12)
Trust Me and Rest  (8/24/12)
You Have An Enemy But Victory Is A Choice  (9/13/12)
Dealing With Long-term Disease  (9/30/12)

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Whaling Walls - Murals Around the World

From Wyland Foundation

In the world of art, nothing compares to the size, scope, and majesty of Wyland's "Whaling Walls." Spanning the sides of skyscrapers, sports arenas, and structures throughout the world, these landmark public murals have captured the imagination of millions and helped inspire a new generation to become better stewards for our environment.

The completed Whaling Wall campaign is one of the largest art-in-public-places projects in history, spanning five continents, 13 countries, and 79 cities around the globe. View the video intro.

In 2008, twenty-seven years after Wyland’s quest began, the artist and the Wyland Foundation completed the monumental goal of painting 100 life-size public marine murals. These murals were painted in life-size dimensions to increase appreciation and understanding for aquatic habitats and the life within. Perhaps, most importantly, they have reshaped attitudes about marine life conservation.

“We know now that water connects all the countries of the world,” Wyland says. “Our goal with these projects over the last three decades has been to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public. The health of our ocean and waterways are in jeopardy, not to mention the thousands of marine animals and plants that face extinction if we do nothing.”

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Understanding and Dealing with Pet Stress

by Dr. Jane Bicks

You might think that our homebody companion animals experience less stress than their outdoor ancestors, who struggled with the elements and uncertain food supplies. However, some veterinarians believe that their overall stress levels have actually increased over time. In this post, Dr. Jane addresses the effects of stress on the body and the steps you can take to minimize pet stress. Learn more now ….

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Green Living Resources

Our actions impact the environment. Today we realize that each thing we do can help or hurt our planet in many ways. We all need to take ownership of environmental protection. EPA has tools to help you learn and understand the issues and help you reduce your environmental footprint. Learn more at EPA's Sustainability website. Bookmark it! It's a great resource of information.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Plants and Trees of The Bible


Dr. Lytton Musselman, chair of the botany department of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, has assisted in some of the latest rounds of reforestation in Lebanon.

Lytton is also the host and content provider of the “Bible Plants” Website at ODU. You can visit the amazing Bible Plants Website.

Four years ago—after years of research and photo collection—his book on the plants of the Bible and the Koran was published. Titled Figs, Dates, Laurel, and Myrrh: Plants of the Bible and the Quran, it is a great asset to me in grasping the outdoors setting of each biblical account.

Since the Bible begins with unfallen man living in a Garden and ends with the redeemed saints living in a Garden City, and since, in between, the natural world plays such an important role in the biblical narratives, I find it curious that Christians typically do not seem very interested in the natural history of the Bible lands.

Because I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan with Day of Discovery, I’m fascinated with the natural world of the Bible. Read the entire article.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Confused About What God's Really Like?

It seems most people struggle with figuring out God. Many people have already deleted Him from their lives because the church has preached that God causes all the bad things to happen.

Sovereignty of God has been defined in a bit of a twisted fashion and so our mind cannot wrap itself around this schizophrenic God presented by most Christians today. Those who serve inwardly have a foundation based on fear of God, and that's not the fear (reverence) that is spoken of when the Bible talks about the "fear of the Lord."

So, how do we come to know who God really is? This article and series of free messages that we've listened to has brought it all together to truly make sense. The real reason is because it explains the Old and New Testament covenants and also gives oodles of Scriptures, so your spirit can be convinced of the Truth being heard.

If you've often wondered how to view God and been confused at what the Bible has to offer you into who He is ... then this material will make you as excited as we've been to finally understand it all. You will know the Truth and the Truth truly does set us free!

May God bless you with an open heart and revelation as you seek to know the God that you will spend an eternity with as a Christian. I'd love for you to share your thoughts on this in the comments section of the post (can be done anonymously) or by email.

Love and Hugs,

The True Nature of God
By Andrew Wommack

God is a good God! He isn’t mad at us. He not only loves us, He likes us! He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter how badly we miss it. His mercies are new every morning! Our sin does not affect His opinion of us nor cause Him to withhold His blessing! Great is His faithfulness!

Those are radical statements! Just think about the typical Christian teaching concerning God today. Usually, God is represented as stern, angry, and ready to get us for the slightest misstep. Or at least He certainly won’t answer our prayers if we sin. That’s wrong, and it leads to wrong conclusions and attitudes toward God that hinder an intimate relationship with Him.

So why is the Lord represented so harshly? The answer can be found in the lack of understanding of the harmony between the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Lord vented His anger and judgment often, and in devastating ways.

There was Noah’s flood; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; a death angel killed all the firstborn of Egypt in one night; another angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night; and on and on the list goes. There is no doubt our God is a holy God who hates sin and demands justice.

However, there is also the portrait of God that Jesus painted through His teachings and actions. He showed mercy to the worst of sinners, associated with publicans and harlots, loved the unlovely, and His ultimate action of dying for our sins proved beyond any doubt that He came to save the world, not condemn it.

How does this fit with the Old Testament view of the harshness and severity of God? Is God schizophrenic? Does He sometimes love us and other times hate us? How can we have a healthy relationship with someone who changes His moods frequently?

These questions present a dilemma that has kept many people at arm’s length from the Lord. The vast majority of people KNOW there is a God; they just don’t know how to relate to Him. They are confused because mixed signals have been sent to them, often by the church.

A minister will say that it was the Lord, in His sovereignty, who killed a baby; and in the next breath, the minister will ask if anyone wants to serve this GOOD GOD. We are told that God won’t answer the prayer of anyone in sin, and yet we are told that we all sin. Where does that leave us? Without a prayer!

There is a simple answer to these questions, and a harmony between the wrath and mercy of God. God is not schizophrenic. There is one, true nature of God clearly represented in the Word, and that is LOVE!

First John 4:8 says,
“God is love.”

He doesn’t just love at times. Love is the nature of God! Jesus gave us the greatest representation of the true nature of God ever presented.

God placed our sins on Jesus and punished Him in our place. God satisfied His own demands for justice, not by punishing us, but by punishing His Son in our place. This wasn’t a partial payment which required adding our holiness; it was a total payment that leaves us with nothing to do except believe and receive, or doubt and do without.

Jesus’ payment for our sins forever changed our relationship with the Father. If Jesus had made His sacrifice for sins in the Old Testament, then we wouldn’t have seen the wrath of God vented as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures.

Here’s an example. In 2 Kings 1, Elijah called fire down from heaven and killed 102 soldiers who had come to arrest him. Jesus’ disciples asked to do the same thing and cited Elijah as their example. Jesus rebuked them for even thinking about such an act and said,

“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56).

Jesus rebuked His disciples for trying to follow Elijah’s example. This shows that if Jesus had been present on the earth in His role as Messiah, this act of judgment wouldn’t have happened. There is a difference between the way God dealt with mankind under the Old Covenant and the way He deals with mankind under the New Covenant.

Before the sacrifice of Jesus, there was judgment. But it wasn’t because the Lord desired to punish us. His nature has always been love. However, a price had to be paid for sin, and until that sacrifice was made, there had to be consequences.

It’s similar to training children. If you wait to begin disciplining your children until they are old enough to fully comprehend exactly what you say, you and the child will be in big trouble. A child has to be restrained from doing wrong from a very young age.

At one or two years old, they may not understand that it’s the devil tempting them to take their sibling’s toys. However, they can understand, “If you do that again, you are going to get a spanking.” They may not comprehend heaven and hell issues, but when the devil tempts them with covetousness, they will say NO, because they fear a spanking.

Likewise, before the new birth, people were sinning and that sin was destroying their lives. God didn’t want to punish them. He was willing to show them mercy on credit, in a sense, looking forward to the sacrifice of His own Son for their sins. People began to take the lack of God’s judgment as approval.

This can be clearly seen with Cain and his descendants. Cain killed his brother Abel because of jealousy (Gen. 4). Instead of punishment, God extended mercy toward Cain, even putting a mark on his forehead to warn others that God was protecting him.

Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, Lamech, interpreted this as approval of murder. He killed a man in self-defense and, therefore, felt more justified in his killing than Cain. He said that if God would avenge Cain sevenfold, then He would avenge Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

God didn’t say that, Lamech did. Lamech was presuming on God because of His grace toward Cain. Therefore, mankind began to move so far away from a proper standard of holiness that if God hadn’t intervened, there wouldn’t have been a virgin left to give birth to Jesus.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12,
“But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

This has always been the case. If one person gets by with sin, others will take that as an approval of sin. So before the Lord could produce the new birth, where He lives within us and guides us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, He placed external restraints on sin that even lost people could understand. “You sin and you die.” That’s the way it was.

That wasn’t the way God really wanted it to be, but sin had to be restrained until Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was made. God’s withholding of punishment for sin had led to a total loss of a true standard of right and wrong. Mankind had compared themselves with others so often and for so long that no one knew what God originally intended. Something had to be done.

Sin was destroying the human race and needed to be restrained. Therefore, God gave the Law. But why didn’t He give the Law to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden 2,000 years earlier and prevent these problems? Because of love. The Law had serious side effects of condemnation and guilt. God didn’t want us running from Him out of fear but to Him because of love and grace.

The Law was never God’s plan for salvation. It was God showing us that we could never measure up to His holy standard. It was given to drive us from self-righteousness and toward receiving the sacrifice of Jesus by faith.

Amazingly, the church has interpreted it in the opposite way. Most Christians think the Law is wonderful, that God expects us to keep it, and that His response to us is based on our compliance. That’s just not true!

The Law was given for two main purposes. First, the fear of God’s punishment constrained sin in people’s lives, thereby diminishing Satan’s inroads. Second, it totally took away all hope of being saved by any virtue of themselves. The Law made everyone guilty before God with no hope of justice. We needed mercy.

Those were the main purposes of the Law. It was not God’s list of steps one through ten thousand of what you must do to be right with Him. It was God’s list of all you have done wrong, proving that you can never be right with God unless He provides another form of payment. It was not to set you free. The Law was to bind and destroy you. It was a severe spanking for the whole human race to turn us from sin and self-salvation.

This is one of the most radical teachings I’ve ever done with an abundance of Scripture references for every point. I’ve not included all the references in this teaching, because they are too numerous and need some explanation. But it’s imperative that you understand these truths.

I have made this teaching, The True Nature of God, available in book form or CD album. In it I harmonize the judgment of the Old Testament with the grace and mercy of the New Testament to reveal one, true nature of God. This is a life-changing teaching. Watch this series as video conference or listen to or download the audio version..

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Can Kids with Allergies Have Pets?

by Dr. Jane Bicks

If you’re a parent, in all likelihood you’ll be begged by your child to adopt a companion animal. Unfortunately, many children suffer from pet-related allergies. How does one resolve this seeming contradiction, or is it even possible?

Find out in this, the latest post from the desk of Dr. Jane. She dishes out the truth about most allergy problems, how parents can protect their kids, and how families can finally adopt a companion animal safely. Read this post now … .

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Toxic BPA Still In Canned Foods

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health may have finally raised the issue of bisphenol-A (BPA) in canned foods above the radar for consumers—me included. Volunteers who ate canned Progresso vegetable soup five days in a row had an amazing 1200 percent spike in levels of the chemical in their urine.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in metal food- and beverage-can liners. (It was also common in polycarbonate water bottles, but in the face of consumer concern over worrying research, that industry has scrambled to become “BPA-free.”)

Studies have linked BPA exposure with diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in humans; in animal studies, it’s been shown to interfere with reproductive development.

According to Dr. Frederick S. vom Saal, a professor in biological science at the University of Missouri at Columbia, and the foremost expert on BPA toxicity, 100 percent of industry-sponsored studies show no toxicity from BPA, but 100 percent of government-sponsored studies do show toxic effects. Read the entire article.

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Study Shows Rats Are Nice

New experiments show rats demonstrating compassion and helping other rodents. It's a trait some scientists thought was reserved only for humans and higher primates.

And it's certainly not the sneaky, selfish rap that goes with calling someone a dirty rat.

In repeated tests, rats freed another trapped rat in their cage, even when yummy chocolate served as a tempting distraction. Twenty-three of the 30 rats opened the trap by pushing in a door.

The rats could have gobbled the chocolate before freeing their partners, but often didn't, choosing to help and share the goodies. Read the entire article.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Identifying Winter Visiting Pine Siskins

“Like a goldfinch wearing camouflage.” I’ve used that phrase before, but I think it’s worth repeating as a capsule description of Pine Siskin.

The resemblance is no coincidence. Siskins and North American goldfinches have been moved around taxonomically ... but it’s generally agreed that they’re all close relatives. Get some tips and photos here.

© Donna L. Watkins - Pine Siskin Eating Thistle Seed
Editor's Note:
We had Pine Siskins galore last winter and enjoyed them greatly. They loved the Nyjer Seed (thistle) that we put out and gathered in groups of 30-40 to enjoy the feeders.

They generally feed on confier seeds and we do have some pines on our acre of land that we planted for diversity on the front bank and for cover for the birds and rabbits, etc. I don't know if they feasted on those or not, but they were quite the show for us on our Front Porch Bird Buffet.

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Spiritual Graces of Natural Places

by Dean Ohlman, Wonder of Creation

© Donna L. Watkins - Our Natural Place, Bluebird Cove
People contemplate the natural world to derive from it truth about God—our supernatural Creator—and our role as stewards of what He has made. Awareness of such truth and then living in accord with it connects us consciously to the supernatural, brings health to our souls, compels us to the worship of our Creator, and moves us toward community with all creatures that share the natural world with us.

No doubt this deeper meaning of the wild is the reason people still read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. How is it that many of the values and concerns of a man who was born almost 200 years ago still seem to ring true to us?

The likely reason is that the real values and concerns of people have remained virtually unchanged from the beginning of human history. Modern technology, especially since the time of Thoreau, has allowed us to isolate and insulate ourselves from the realities of life we face in the wild natural places.

For that reason one could conclude that we need such wilderness today far more than ever before. Read the entire article.

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Vaccination Exemptions for Children & Adults

There's news of a lot of vaccines coming up for adults, not only children. We opted early to refuse vaccines for our child after he received the first one. There was just a knowing within this mother's heart that it was not what I wanted for my child. It didn't make sense to me on an instinctive level.

There are exemptions to avoid vaccines. Some who have never thought about it would wonder why you'd want to avoid vaccines. That's not something I will write about, but you can get a lot of information online if you just search for "dangers of vaccines" or a similar term. Much of the autism is being linked to this and that's been in the news for years, but there's a lot more than that.

You do not need to belong to a church or particular denomination to be able to use a religious exemption available in 48 states. There are 30 states where the conscientious objection is an option. Dr. Mercola interviews Barbara Loe Fisher, a Co-founder and President of the National Vaccine Information Center. Watch the video here or visit You Tube to view.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Newsletter - 1/15/12

Hello Dear Friends!

Randal's Weather Station - Gift From Son
Randal installed the new weather center he received from our son for Christmas.  The touchscreen display gadget moves about the house now and then as Randal enjoys seeing the data.

What is it about weather and men?  I have friends with husbands who have several weather gadgets around the house.

This one is powered by solar and has all the whirlygigs on it so Randal can look out his office window and know we'll be informed of what's on the way.

Do you think I should consider a crash course in weather reporting?  I could do weather videos from Bluebird Cove.  Just kidding!  However, I did take a video of Randal explaining the weather center as a thank you to Ben, our son, for the gift.

Squeek had dental surgery on the 5th of this month and did well for the first 4 days, but has been really lethargic and without much appetite for the past 5 days.  They gave her one of those super-duper antibiotic shots that lasts for two weeks before the surgery, so I'm hoping it's just the side effects of that.

I'm expecting to see these symptoms wane as we get into Tuesday (17th) when it should be totally gone.  At almost 16 years old (84 human years), I'm sure taking 7 teeth out was pretty traumatic to her body.  She has had FIV which causes a serious gum condition and that's why there were so many dental issues.  Your prayers would be appreciated.  In the meantime, she's enjoying her new Kuddle Cup Bed.  She looks so sweet in it.

New Window Covering for Breakfast Area
aka Sun Room for the Winter
On a brighter note, we finally have shades for our breakfast area window.  Only took 11 years to do this.  The window frame has only had 1/2" of space so there were no fixtures that would hold any type of shade up there, especially since they built this house with MDF rather than real wood.

Never being one to give up hope ... I saw an ad for a local guy, The Shade Smith, who installed shades and offered a free consultation, so I called to set one up (albeit not with much hope left).  Mark Smith had been an installer for many years for Hunter Douglas so knew his stuff and had a brand that was reasonably priced.  What I wanted was something opaque so I could still see the trees and bushes outside without the bright southern exposure of sun causing a lot of glare.

BEFORE Look of the Chest
He said he could make it work especially since my preference was for the honeycomb shades which were very light.  There were only 6 shades but I instantly knew which one I wanted and the name was FAWN.  That fits!  He did an awesome job and we're so excited about the benefits.

Ever since we painted the trim last year, I've wanted to use some of the leftover paint to redo a chest that is in our guest room.  It's one that Randal's dad had ordered as a kit when Randal was a kid.  It was brown when we got married and in the 90's I painted it white with some pink stenciling.

AFTER Look of Chest with New Paint & Pulls
You can imagine why I keep this old chest in the family ... it's not only because it was Randal's a child, but look at all those drawers!  It's a great storage unit.  I really love the color of the trim paint we used (Olympic Premium 0% VOC - Sauteed Mushroom) and it would match the neutral tones of the guest room.  It took me weeks of doing some on each of my "off the computer" days since I wanted to do four (4) coats to make sure it covered the bright white and provided a heavier protection with the extra coats.  

Since we had swapped out the drawer pulls in the kitchen for a darker variety, I intended to use them for the chest when I did the painting.  The old ones I put on and somebody was glad to have them.  I love FreeCycle so things get reused and not just recycled.

Male Pileated Woodpecker at Suet Feeder
We made suet last weekend.  We enjoy getting to see the seven (7) species of woodpeckers visit often for it.  I have bought it also, but it just yuks me out to think of using beef suet since chemicals and drugs are stored in the fat of a body.  I pray over it to cleanse it, but it feels really good to make our own.

Since I've got access to Randal's muscle for stirring, it was no problem for me to measure everything out and then press it into some baking dishes and cut it with a pizza wheel to bag up.  The garage is a great place to store it.  If you'd like the recipe, I did a post on My Favorite Suet Recipe.

Bird Feather Bouquet
Speaking of birds ... have you ever picked up a bird feather from the ground or the beach?  I have over the years and about a year ago decided to make a "bird feather bouquet" right after Randal found a turkey feather on our driveway.  I thought I'd share a photo of it to maybe give you an idea of what to do with all of those collected bird feathers ... or to inspire you to look for feathers now that you have something you can do with them.

It's only 8 weeks till Daylight Savings Time begins on March 11th.  I'm looking forward to the forsythias and daffodils being in bloom.  As warm as it's been this Winter, I wonder if we'll get an earlier Spring?  You won't hear any complaints from me, but I do have a few friends who actually enjoy winter.

While we have Winter, Randal and I entertain ourselves with puzzles.  I grew up doing puzzles with my great grandparents on a small card table.  Precious memories.  They would glue them to cardboard and hang them up with a string like works of art.  I now know that it was a great way to keep me in one place and sitting still.  Not something I was prone to do much having been a very "busy" child.

Puzzles have many benefits.  I did a post showing the puzzles we've done since December.  View this post:  Get Brainy Family Time with Puzzles.

I pray that 2012 has already been a year of blessing for you.  May God reveal Himself to you on a deeper and deeper level as you "seek first the Kingdom of God" and the amazing depths of His love for us.

If you enjoy this newsletter ... share the website with somebody else.  Maybe you know of somebody who needs something in this issue.  There's a "Share This" option on the right side.  Thanks!

Love and Hugs,

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Friday, January 13, 2012

My Favorite Suet Recipe

Last weekend Randal and I made some homemade suet for the birds.  Technically, suet is defined as "the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals." So, what we made could be called a suet replacement. I don't like the thought of animal fat being fed to the birds so I wanted to make my own. Saved money and didn't take long at all.

We love all the woodpeckers it attracts.  Even the huge one known as the Pileated Woodpecker.  It's a real laugh to see them working on the suet since they're more than twice the size of the suet feeder.

Here's the recipe:

2 cups quick oats
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup solid shortening (like Crisco)
1 cup peanut butter (you can use crunchy or creamy).

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt shortening and peanut butter together till blended. Pour liquid into dry and mix well. Pat into 13x9 pan lined with wax paper. Refrigerate a few hours and then slice with a pizza wheel to fit your suet feeders.

We doubled the recipe and put them in plastic baggies and stored them in the garage where we keep all of our bird feeding supplies.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get Brainy Family Time with Puzzles

Christmas Nativity Scene
In the winter Randal and I bring out the puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles to be exact. The one end of our dining room table becomes a puzzle board for months.

We did this even when our son was growing up, although we did puzzles a lot more then since we were homeschoolers.  There's great value in puzzles for brain training.  It seemed I made many activities into educational events. We found that doing puzzles is a great relaxed way to bring family together to chat about topics without being "in your face" about them.

We began in December with one of our Christmas puzzles. This nativity scene is one I received from my son years ago. Since we don't do much in the way of Christmas decorating, as we've simplified the holiday, it's great to focus on the details of the Christmas puzzles which are all centered on the Real Reason For The Season ... Jesus Christ.

Hummingbirds & Butterflies
Jigsaw puzzles are excellent brain training and co-ordination improvement tools and are quite fun! In particular, they develop your abilities to reason, analyze, sequence, deduce, logical thought processes and problem solving skills. 

These types of puzzles also improve hand-eye co-ordination and develop a good working sense of spatial arrangements. In schools and other training establishments, jigsaw puzzles are extensively used as learning aids. (Source:

The next one was a rather small one compared to many of ours and it fit on the coffee table in the living room.  (Do they still call those tables 'coffee tables'?)

We generally like the 1000 piece ones, but any size works.  We didn't begin with puzzles that large.  This hummingbird puzzle has a lot of colors in it and although not very big is still challenging since the shades of colors are very similar.  It's also a challenge to be able to "see" all the butterflies and hummingbirds in the puzzle after you have it together.  The colors almost hide them.

When you are able to use both the sides of the brain, you will find that your mind power is harnessed to its best and gets better. Jigsaw puzzle helps you exercise both the parts of your brain. Left-brain thinks logically and follows sequence while the right brain is creative, intuitive and emotional. When you put together a jigsaw puzzle, you harness both the brainpowers.

While working on jigsaw puzzles, it has been studied that there exists continuous activity involving all the cells and parts of the brain ... There have been several studies like the MacArthur Study, that has found that people who have been used to doing jigsaw puzzles as well as cross word and were fully active stood to gain a longer life span and also lesser chances of falling prey to Alzheimer’s, memory loss, dementia and other old age problems.

Great Events of the Bible
Working on puzzles ... makes us alert, increases our concentration, expands our creativity. It also affects our physical health by lowering our breath rate, reducing heart rate and blood pressure too. You get immense and long lasting benefits out of doing puzzles on daily basis. It not only sharpens your memory, improves your brain function, but the clarity of mind and thought helps you clear out the clutter in your mind and the cobwebs accumulating over years. You then begin to see things around you in new light are able to appreciate your life a lot better. You not only start finding solutions to your problems, but also begin to look forward to everyday in your life. (Source:

We take turns choosing puzzles and one of Randal's favorites is Great Events of the Bible. It's amazing the amount of "stories" that are shown on this puzzle. The border is always real easy to get together since it's the books of the Bible, so easy to find the end pieces and easy to know where they fit in if you know the order of the books.

State Birds and Flowers
Sometime during the year, we purchased a new puzzle.  We love doing the same ones over and over for many years, but any time we see one that will also be educational and having to do with God's Creation, we can't resist.  So, we purchased one that showed the state birds and flowers.  We're working on that one now.

It's very interesting and presents many questions for our minds.  Like, why would Oklahoma (Randal's home state) choose mistletoe, a parasitic plant, as their state flower?

Did you know that the Cardinal is the bird chosen for the most amount of states - seven (7)?  The Mockingbird is not far behind at five (5).  Two states, Rhode Island and Delaware, have both chosen a chicken.

There's so much to learn and my favorite subject is anything that God has created.  The wonders of His glory in all His artistry amazes me and is beyond my brain's capacity of what AWESOME really means.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

How To Overcome Doubt

By Andrew Wommack

No one is immune to doubt. It can and does happen to us all. You've just got to know how to handle it when it comes. Even the greatest men and women of God recorded in the Bible had to deal with doubt. Jesus said of John the Baptist,

"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 11:11).

That means John was greater in the sight of Jesus than Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, or any Old Testament character you can name. Yet John doubted the most important thing of all by questioning whether Jesus was really the Christ.

John the Baptist had been cast into prison for criticizing Herod about marrying his brother’s wife, an incestuous relationship. He had been there sometime between six months and two years and became so discouraged that he asked two of his disciples to go to Jesus and ask Him if He really was the Christ. It's easy to read that and not think much about it, but the truth is, it was nothing but unbelief on the part of John the Baptist.

Think about who John was. He was separated unto God and filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb. Even Jesus wasn't filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. It is believed he lived in the desert near the Dead Sea with the Essens, the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were a people who were super-legalistic who dogmatically practiced many rituals of self denial. He certainly had not lived what we would call an easy life. John was separated and focused on his purpose.

His entire life was committed to preparing the way for the Christ. He spent thirty years preparing for a ministry that would only last six short months. John is the one who saw Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"(John 1:29). The anointing on his life had to be exceptionally powerful because his ministry defied logic. Thousands of people from many nations came to the middle of nowhere to hear this man preach, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And God had revealed to him that through a visible sign from heaven he would know who the Christ was. He would see the Spirit of God descending upon the Messiah in bodily shape as a dove. That came to pass when John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.

At that time, John was absolutely certain that Jesus was the Christ. He had zero doubt. He was so adamant about it that he said

"I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" in John 1:34. In Luke 3:16 he said, "One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose." And in John 3:30 he said, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

However, after being imprisoned for a period of time, he began to doubt. This says a number of things, but an important one is the fact that anyone can doubt. How did Jesus respond to John's doubt? Well, He certainly didn't respond the way most of us do. He told John's disciples to go back and tell him of the miracles they had witnessed and that John would be blessed if he would just believe. That's it. Jesus didn't try and make John feel better by letting him know He understood his pain or by making a few complimentary comments. Jesus reserved those comments till after John's disciples left (Luke 7:24-28).

This puzzled me for many years. Why didn't Jesus say these things about John the Baptist in the hearing of John's disciples so they could have brought him that word? It seemed to me like that would have helped John more than just telling him to look at the miracles, and he'll be blessed if he believes.

Years after I first had these questions, I was reading from Isaiah 35 and came across the passage that says,

"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert" (Is. 35:5-6).

It suddenly struck me that this was exactly the answer that Jesus gave to John's messengers. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 11:4-6:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Jesus performed all the miracles Isaiah prophesied He would do, and threw in the healing of a leper and raising someone from the dead just for good measure. What Jesus did was He perfectly fulfilled the prophecy about Himself, and then referred John the Baptist back to that word. Jesus reminded John of the scriptures, to deal with his doubts. That's Jesus' method of dealing with our doubts.

Many of us have Bibles lying around gathering dust. Some of us even carry one. But when we're struggling with unbelief, we don't want a scripture; we want something tangible, something emotional that we can feel. We would rather have Jesus just put His arm around us and say something about how everything will be all right. That would make us feel better. But overcoming doubt isn't just about feeling better; it's about getting back into faith that only comes from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17).

Jesus sent the Word back with John's disciples. He knew this would stir up John's spirit to overcome the doubt. Peter understood this about faith when he wrote about it in 2 Peter 1:12-15, which says,

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."

Peter was stating how important it was for his words to be received, as they were, in truth, the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). To prove to them that these were not just fables he made up, Peter refers to the time they were with Jesus on the mountain. They saw Jesus shine as the brightness of the sun. The Shekinah glory cloud of God overshadowed them all, and they heard an audible voice out of heaven say, "This is my beloved Son: hear him" (Mark 9:7). They also saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. That is pretty impressive!

But Peter went on to say in 2 Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy." What could possibly be more sure than all these supernatural signs? Peter gives that answer in the next verse when he talks about the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:20). The Scriptures are more sure and more faith building and doubt destroying than seeing Jesus transfigured or hearing an audible voice from heaven. Hallelujah!

The only sure way to overcome doubt is to place your faith in the Word of God and depend on that more sure word of prophecy. Don't allow your five senses to dominate your thinking. You must come to a place to where God's Word is more real to you than anything you can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel. When you're in doubt, refer back to the Word of God just the way Jesus told John the Baptist to do. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word.

There are only two times recorded in the Bible when Jesus marveled at anything. Once He marveled at the people's great unbelief (Mark 6:6), and in Matthew 8:10 He marveled at a Gentile soldier's great faith. A faith that made Jesus marvel is worth examining. What was different about it? The number one difference was what the centurion said,

"But speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." (Matt. 8:8-9)

The centurion had a faith that was in God's Word alone. He didn't have to have Jesus come to his house and wave His hand over the sick servant. If Jesus would just give him a word, that was all he needed.

Contrast this centurion's faith with the little faith of Thomas, who was one of Jesus' twelve disciples. The first time the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, Thomas wasn't present. The other ten disciples told Thomas that Jesus was resurrected, but it was eight more days before Jesus appeared to His disciples with Thomas present.

"But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20:25)

Jesus walked up to Thomas and told him to put his finger into the print of the nails and thrust his hand into Jesus' side and to not be faithless but believing. Thomas fell on his knees and confessed Jesus as his Lord and God.

"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

Jesus placed a greater blessing on those who believe without seeing than those who believe because they have seen. In other words, there is a greater anointing on believing the Word than believing signs and wonders. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in signs and wonders. Jesus used them like a bell to draw people unto Himself and so should we. But the ultimate, the more sure word of prophecy, is the written Word of God. There is a greater blessing on just believing God's Word than there is on believing because of supernatural circumstances. Those who are looking for circumstances to confirm their faith will fail when the strong battles of unbelief come. We have to get our faith so rooted in God's Word alone that we can withstand a hurricane.

The reason Jesus didn't try to make John feel better with a few kind words, an emotional touch, was not because He didn't care. He cared for John so much that He gave John His best — the written Word of God. That's how Jesus dealt with own His temptations (Matt. 4), and that was and still is God's best way for us to deal with our temptations to not believe.

Maybe there's a reason the Lord hasn't used an emotional touch to deliver you from unbelief. Maybe it's because He loves you so much that He's trying to help you operate in the highest form of faith — faith that takes Him at His Word. If the least of the saints today are greater than John the Baptist was then (Matt. 11:11), surely the Lord is wanting us to operate on at least the same level in which He dealt with John's unbelief.

Visit Andrew Wommack Ministries International for more great teaching articles.

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