Friday, August 31, 2012

Lynchburg, VA - Historical Old City Cemetery

by Donna L. Watkins

Lynchburg, Virginia is less than two hours away, so we took a day trip early one cool summer morning. The Old City Cemetery has several historical buildings and a lot of wide open spaces to roam. Cemeteries are peaceful places while most of the world spends Saturdays running about.

Overgrown Lotus Pond in 2002
)Note difference from picture in 2012 below)
We had been there 10 years before but only visited a small area of this 26-acre cemetery. There was a beautiful lotus pond that I really enjoyed at that time. It's in the Butterfly Garden, but had obviously become quite overgrown, although still so beautiful! This time the pond was basically empty compared to our previous visit as you can see from the photos in this post. What a contrast!

There was a specific focus on African-American history from slavery to integration. This cemetery was the only burial ground in Lynchburg open to African Americans until 1885 and 75% of the estimated 20,000 people buried here, from 1806 to the present, are African-American.

Pest House Medical Museum, depicting conditions in a Civil War quarantine hospital, included a medicinal herb garden.

Butterfly Garden Pond Without Lotus Plants in 2012
Cemetery Center houses an office and small museum of mourning customs, artifacts, burial records, a gift shop, and even public restrooms. A rare find in a cemetery.

The Hearse House & Caretakers' Museum had an original 1900 horse-drawn hearse from a funeral home that began business in 1817 and are still in business in Lynchburg. This building also housed a grave markers exhibit.

The Station House Museum was a 1898 C&O Railway depot interpreting local railroad history. The Confederate Section contains 2200 graves of Civil War soldiers from 14 states. Seeing those markers all lined up makes you really hate war. View the Photo Journal. It has lots of information typed into the descriptions of the photos.

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GMO Gloomy Outlook for Health & Allergies

There is a heated race going on, which a few years ago could fit into any science fiction story.

Monsanto and Syngenta are neck-and-neck, rushing to bioengineer as many fruits and vegetables as possible.  Bloomberg reported that Monsanto is "accelerating its push to identify thousands of genetic markers in fruits and vegetables as it brings the tools of biotechnology to conventional breeding."

Markers will enable farmers to select everything from taste to disease-resistant crops. And Monsanto (the world's biggest vegetable-seed producer) plans to develop some of these new varieties in two to four years. 

"Using the markers is like having 'X-ray glasses' that let breeders peer inside a leaf clipping or seed to find what will grow," said Doug Heath, a tomato breeder for Monsanto. 

Monsanto says biotechnology leads to better taste, nutrition and has no health problems. The Organic Consumers Association disagrees, "people can't make the connection between GMO foods and their allergies or other health problems because, without labels on genetically modified foods, there's no traceability."

Syngenta is nipping on Monsanto's heels. It has more than "250,000 genetic markers to help with vegetable breeding, including about 50,000 in melon, 25,000 in tomato and 10,000 in peppers," according to Bloomberg.

Some of Mansanto's food is already coming to market; like a watermelon with flesh like an apple, lettuce that tastes like iceberg but with the nutrition of Romaine, and an onion that's sweet enough to bite into. 

“We’re breeding in a different way now,” Heath said. “It’s so powerful.”  But does powerful mean we should welcome it? 

Other Stories on GMOs

Stories about GMOs have been in the news lately. Here are a few stories if you want to read more about what's happening. 
 What About You?

What do you think about food straight out of a science fiction story? Could there be benefits? Is it something we should fear? 

Leave your comments on the blog.

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Camping with Your Canine Companion

Video by Dr. Sarah

The fresh air. Communing with nature. Telling stories around the campfire. Freshly melted s’mores. What’s not to love about camping in the Great Outdoors?

Not only is camping a relatively inexpensive way for pet parents to escape the rat race, it’s a fantastic way to bond with your canine companion. If you’ve never been camping with your dog – or camping period – Dr. Sarah’s latest message reveals everything you’ll need for the perfect expedition into the wilds.

Be sure to download the handy checklist to make packing for your outdoor adventure a snap. Watch the latest episode of Pet Talk now!

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Top Ten Best Wild Animal Dads

We could learn some lessons from America's animal kingdom on the topic of how to be a super dad. 

The Red Fox is #1 as the best "tough love" Dad.

© Donna L. Watkins - Red Fox in Backyard
For the first month after a fox couple produces young, the female must stay in her den, doubling as a food source and thermal blanket for the babies, called kits. Dad's job is providing her with food every four to six hours until she can leave the den and start hunting as well.

For the young, though, life is a free ride for about 90 days, as both parents cater to their needs. After three months, it's time for life's first harsh lesson as the adults start making the pups work for their grub: Fox fathers bury surplus food close to the den and disguise it with leaves and twigs, teaching the kits to sniff and forage and laying the groundwork for their adult roles as hunters.

Read about the other best dads in the animal world.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Trust Me and Rest

by Donna L. Watkins

As I continue in my healing journey to rid this body of ALL disease, not just the heart failure issues that have been wonderfully put under the blood of Christ, I have had a real challenge with the grace of God. I know the typical definitions of the word grace, but it's head knowledge. Getting head knowledge into the heart where it can be used by the spirit is the real challenge.

© Donna L. Watkins - Fawn In Our Front Yard
We are saved by the grace of God, by His love for us, so much love that He sacrificed His own Son so that the sins of the world could be paid for forever. All sin needs a blood sacrifice which was evident from the first sin in the Garden of Eden, resulting in God sacrificing an animal and then making "clothes" for Adam and Eve.

Now by that grace we are free from the ravages of sin as long as we rest in it. Accepting God's grace doesn't mean we can sin as much as we want because our sins are forgiven through Christ. It means knowing God on a personal level and never wanting to sin again. When you love somebody so much, you never want to do anything that will hurt them.

When we can get a grasp of how much God loves us, we begin to realize that sin is almost impossible because we don't want to break that fellowship, or open the door to the devil to mess with our lives. Many times we accuse God of allowing the bad circumstances of our lives to happen when in reality, it was simply our actions/sin that gave the devil his rights to mess with us. We have free will. We get to choose and when we don't choose what's GOOD, EVIL steps in.

Jesus paid the price not only for our sins, but for our healing. If you look up the word for "salvation" in Greek (the New Testament language), it's "sozo" and if you study what that word means you will see that mental and physical healing were included in the package. Sozo is also translated "made whole" in reference to physical healing in Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34, and Luke 8:48.

James 5:15 says, "the prayer of faith shall save (sozo) the sick." Many scriptures mention the healing of our bodies in conjunction with the forgiveness of our sins. Healing is a part of our salvation, just as much as the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus healed ALL and Jesus said that He could do nothing of Himself, but only what He saw the Father do (Jn. 5:19 and 8:28-29), His actions are proof enough that it is always God's will to heal. I have left a lot on the table that Jesus paid for me to have.

So you have prayed and prayed and had others pray and you're still not healed. I know what you mean. When I Peter 2:24 says, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed," it was done in the spiritual realm. Our sins were forgiven when Christ died on the Cross, but that doesn't mean everybody has accepted it. By faith there came a time when we chose to give Jesus our life and apply salvation. God says that He wants all to be saved in I Timothy 2:4, but obviously all are not.

We must choose to believe. Have you noticed how many times Jesus said, "Only believe." It sounds so simple because we think believing is with our head, but it must be with our hearts and without doubt for we won't receive anything if we are tossed about as a wave of the sea (James 1:6-7).

© Donna L. Watkins - Fawn In Our Front Yard
Not through knowledge of words, but of revelation in our hearts. The Holy Spirit must make the Word come alive within us and the power of it takes away the physical manifestation of the sickness or disease when we can allow the spirit to take over.

Man is so used to relying on the five senses to assess how things are going. If we don't see it, we don't believe it. Remember the disciple Thomas? We have to see, touch, taste, hear, feel or smell it. God is spirit and He works in the spiritual realm. We are body, soul and spirit and sadly have been ruled by the soul rather than the spirit for a long time. The body will do whatever your soul or spirit wants, whichever one is in charge. That's why Scripture says, "as a man thinketh in his heart so is he" (Prov. 23:7).  We must get to where our mind/soul thinks only on the Truth of the Word and not on anything else.

Most of us were brought up in a performance-based society. If you sit still and don't touch anything you're a good child. If you get good grades everybody praises you. If you wreck the car you get punished and shamed. If you do good at work you'll get a bonus on your paycheck. It all speaks to our minds that we get good things by our own efforts.

So, how do we apply grace for healing when we have our minds churning over what else we must do to manifest the healing that Jesus gave us? It's rough. I've actually heard myself say to the Lord, "What else can I do to make this happen quicker?" Of course I barely get the words out before hearing, "Trust Me! Rest in My work on the Cross."

Trust You? That's a bit hard. How many people have I trusted and been disappointed for doing so? [But they are only people, I am God.] Proverbs 3:5-8:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones."

Rest? But, Lord, my mind bombards me with ideas of things I need to do.

© Donna L. Watkins
Mama Deer & Fawn In Our Front Yard
BUT! We get to choose. We can't make ourselves trust anyone, but we can choose to rest our minds and not think thoughts opposite of what God's Word tells us. When we choose to put God's Word above what our flesh (mind and body) tells us, we will begin to build faith in the Word and put less reliance on our physical senses.  We will begin to trust because we learn the true nature of God within the Word and God is love.

As long as we're trying to DO something for our healing, we are saying that what Christ has DONE is not enough. We try to add to what He suffered for us on the Cross. Actually some denominations teach that we must suffer because Christ suffered. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Would you call punishing yourself as having life to the fullest? And we do punish ourselves if we've been under this kind of teaching, but that's another topic. Feeling worthy enough to accept your healing is a big factor of why it does not manifest.

Another reason is that we have been taught that God approves everything that happens to us, so we may be sick and diseased because it will make us a better person.  God will use it for good.  Yes, God will use it for good as He will anything we go through, but that doesn't mean it was His choice for us.  If we believe that disease is from God, then why would anybody who is sick go to the doctor or hospital?  If it's God's will for you to have this disease, wouldn't it be sin to try to get it to go away?

Every time I wonder off the "straight path" with my own works, I have to remind myself that my part is to plant the Word in my heart. The Word is a seed. Study the beginning of Luke 8 where Jesus teaches on the parable of the seed. The devil will try to steal away the Word before it gets root in your life/heart. We must meditate day and night on the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit shows us. This can be "work" also depending on how we look at it.  If we think WE are working to get healed, we are not resting in the grace that gave us the healing.

We can work and meditate on the Word. Don't we worry and work at the same time? Worry is a form of meditating, but not the one God wants us to use.  I put Scriptures on cards or in notebooks.  I even made a journal solely of Scriptures that people sent me on healing while I was at my worst state, so during the night when I would wake up 9-10 times, I could grab the journal and be right in the Truth within seconds because the devil jumps in before your mind is fully awake.

Trust Me and rest. My biggest challenge while God reveals Himself to me and while I change my mind from the old tapes that said disease comes from God and can be good for you. What an awful thought! Can you imagine as a parent striking your child with a disease to make him a better person? What kind of loving parent would do that!? The story of the Prodigal Son shows us the real nature of The Father (Luke 15).

Jesus came to show us the Father. I can hear Him saying to us as He did to Philip:

"I have been with you for a long time. So you should know Me. The person that has seen Me has seen the Father too. So why do you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you truly believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The things I have told you don't come from Me. The Father lives in Me, and He is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done."

You cannot separate the Father and Jesus. Many people can't think of God as Father but they can love Jesus. We have to realize that they are both one and the same. Reconciling the Old Testament vs. the New Testament will help you understand this better by studying about the true nature of God. As Scripture is revealed to our hearts, it will begin to tear down things that we have wrongly believed.


True Nature Of God - Article
True Nature of God - Audio
True Nature of God - Video
Reigning In Life - Conference Videos or Audios

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Lynchburg, VA - Monument Terrace & Mr. Elder's Rose Garden

by Donna L. Watkins

©  Donna L. Watkins - Monument Terrace
In the process of my choice to be healed by the Word rather than surgery (see The Heart of the Matter), I have been purposely scheduling new challenges to declare to the devil that God's Word is Truth. inspiring rise of Monument Terrace commemorates Lynchburg citizens who fought and died in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and present day. At the base on Church Street stands the iconic doughboy statue. Many other sculptures and markers line the 139 steps and terraces all the way to the top, where the old Court House Museum stands on Court Street.

So, when I thought about a day-trip to Lynchburg for one of our cooler Virginia days, I went to the tourism website and saw a picture of this steep hillside attraction.  I just knew I had to begin the day there!

It's an inspiring and sobering place since the climb up 132 steps has war memorials on each terrace level.  Monument Terrace commemorates Lynchburg citizens who fought and died in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and present day.

© Donna L. Watkins - Red Rose in Mr. Elder's Rose Garden
At the base stands a statue and many sculptures and markers have been erected along the way.  At the top is the Old Court House which has now been converted into a museum.

Along the way I saw an entrance into a small garden with a marker so on the way back down we took time to visit Mr. Elder's Rose Garden. Lawrence Lloyd Elder was a valued employee of the City of Lynchburg for over 34 years. His special domain was gardening and his responsibility the greenhouses where the city’s flowers were raised for use in the parks. In a remote area he also tended his personal garden of roses, which brought much pleasure to the many city employees in the area.

The history and information on each monument and Mr. Elder's garden are described on the photos taken.  View photos of Monument Terrace and Mr. Elder's Rose Garden.

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Birds: Avoiding Window Collisions and Cats

From National Wildlife Magazine

Each year up to 1 billion North American birds die after colliding with windows, says Muhlenberg College researcher Daniel Klem. One way to warn birds that an invisible but solid barrier blocks their flight path is to decorate windows with decals. “But that’s hardly visually satisfying,” Klem notes.

A more pleasing option for consumers would be windows that reflect UV light—visible to birds but not people—a project Klem is working on and hopes to convince manufacturers to produce commercially.

Hundreds of million of birds also fall prey each year to outdoor cats. One entrepreneur is capitalizing on birds’ ability to see UV to combat the problem by marketing a collar that claims to make feline predators more visible to birds.  Read the patent information.

Editor's Note:
I could not find a source of the actual collars.  If anybody knows where they can be purchased, please leave a comment with the link.  Thanks!

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No Work Lawn

White Clover Lawn
From Backyard Gardening

What if I told you there was a way to have a greener lawn, that needed less water, less fertilizer, attracted beneficial insects, and yes, it would be greener? Would you believe me? You should. White clover is the answer to this riddle.

A white clover planted lawn is sometimes called an ecolawn, you simply overseed or co-seed white clover with your grass. White clover is one of those magical plants that form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria, which means it is able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and place it into the soil which in turn fertilizes plants.

A lawn that fertilizes itself, what a good idea! Read on ....

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Martha vs. Mary Issue

by Andrew Wommack
Luke 10:40 - "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."
There are only three instances in Scripture that give us information about Martha. From these accounts, we can see that Martha had a brother named Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, and a sister named Mary.

Martha had misplaced her priorities on this occasion and was corrected by Jesus. Later, at a supper for Jesus in the home of Simon the leper, Martha was once again serving while Mary her sister was worshiping Jesus by anointing His feet with a costly perfume.

Martha was the first one to run and meet Jesus when He came to their home after the death of Lazarus. It was at this time that Martha said she knew Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying and that, even then, she knew He could raise him from the dead.

She made a confession of faith in the deity of Jesus, every bit as strong as Peter's, which received a blessing from Jesus.

Martha was not wrong in serving Jesus and His disciples. Other women ministered to Jesus in this way without being corrected. Serving was a good thing, but Martha had put it in the wrong place.

Her problem was priorities — not what she was doing. It was a great honor to have Jesus in her home and to be able to hear His personal words to her household. Martha should have given this the same priority that Mary did.

Just like Martha, many people today are occupied with things that keep them from hearing the words of Jesus. It is easy to recognize and turn from things that are obviously sin, but even good things that we are involved in must be prioritized so that nothing takes the place of seeking first the kingdom of God.

Visit Andrew's Website.

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Walkerton Tavern - Richmond, VA

by Donna L. Watkins

Walkerton Tavern in Glen Allen, Virginia, was built for John Walker between 1824 and 1825. Walkerton served as a tavern in 1828 and 1829. Since then, the building has been used as a hotel, post office, store, voting precinct, a private home, and possibly a field hospital for Union Calvarymen in 1864.

The grounds contain a small Hopkins family cemetery. The Hopkins family used this as a private residence and lived in Walkerton from 1857 to 1941.

View photo album and get more historical information on photo descriptions.

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Dealing with Gassy Pets

by Dr. Jane Bicks

In Dr. Jane’s latest missive, we tackle a particularly combustible topic – the problem of overly gassy pets.

As you might imagine, there are probably more euphemisms for breaking wind than any other bodily function, and there are also several reasons why it might be happening repeatedly. If your furry one is a flagrant offender in the flatulence department, this may signal an issue that needs to be addressed.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take that might remedy the situation, which Dr. Jane covers here. Hopefully, you’ll learn something that will help clear the air. Read this post now ….

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Coyotes - They’re Turning Up Everywhere

People curse them, trap them, even shoot them, but Coyotes continue to thrive. In fact, their range has expanded greatly in the last fifty years. 

They can be found across the East Coast from Maine down to South Carolina—far beyond their initial range in the West and Canada. What’s brought Coyotes east?.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Newsletter - 8/15/12

Hello Dear Friends!

Donna at Kemper Park for Letterboxing
We're still doing "letter boxing" and trying to cover the ones in our area nearby. There were two listed for Kemper Park that sounded really easy, so we were excited to stop there on our way into Charlottesville for errands.

We hiked UP the trail a long way and thought we had the location a few times, but never did find either of the letterboxes. Disappointing! But it was a cool morning for most of the time there and we got to see some other things in the park and I had another opportunity to kick the devil in the butt by walking an uphill trail.

I loved the centuries old tulip poplar that they have made into a "play zone" for children and for big kids too since I got Randal to climb through it. He's so accommodating!  View Kemper Park & Saunders Trail photo album.

Anybody else out there that loves cilantro? Boy, I've had a culinary party going on with this herb. I've always liked salsa that had a lot of fresh cilantro in it, but for the past couple of months I've wanted cilantro in other things.

Recently made a 3-quart pot of soup and put half of the bunch of cilantro in it. Yummy good! Although I don't usually make soup in summer, it's just what came to mind. I froze the other half for another batch of something and cut up the stems to add to a crockpot full of lima beans that I was cooking for Randal since I had added salsa to it and Mexican spices.

Did you know that cilantro takes heavy metals out of the body? Maybe I have some heavy metals I need detoxed out of me? Cilantro is one of the main ingredients in a formula called, Heavy Metal Detox, which is used to cleanse heavy metals out of the body.

Daisey Doodles Rogers
Healed of Heartworms with Herbs
Speaking of herbal remedies, my friend, Robin, has sent me yet another success story one of her doggie clients achieved this summer. 

Robin works with pets using natural alternatives for a variety of conditions that you don't want to use drugs for. She specializes in heartworms because it's what made her choose to get the word out that there are other ways to treat heartworm disease than the terribly toxic choices. It worked for her pet who lived to an amazing age even though Bandit was rather old when he had heartworms, causing the vet to say he would not survive the treatment.

So, Bandit's hero and mom was Robin, and Robin is now a hero for hundreds of dogs that have been through the program. Few people write more than a thank you but now and then she gets a detailed story and it makes her life seem so fulfilling. It works for me too since she's a very good friend and when she's happy, I'm happy too! Read the story of Daisey Doodles Rogers on her website.

If you know of any pet owners that need to have this information, send them a link to Robin's website and be a hero for some animals out there too:

One of Christina's Beautiful Creations
I have another beautiful friend who makes designer jewelry so she can be a stay-at-home mom for her son, Elijah. I would be amazed at her talent and creativity but before she became pregnant, she did a lot of painting, needlework and bead creations, so it's not a surprise that she would excel at the jewelry also.

Maybe you've got a gift you need to buy or would like to give one to yourself. If you like jewelry and want a one-of-a-kind look, shop at Creative Art Expressions and be well pleased. There's nobody like you so a one-of-a-kind art expression fits right in with your beauty.

I've not mentioned the Bluebird Cove photo galleries since early Spring when things were beginning to come back to life. Here it is almost the end of Summer. I've been seeing a lot of butterflies. One day I looked out the window and there was a fawn lying in the front yard a bit behind some plants. How sweet! Took a few photos and then the mom came back for a mom and child photo. She actually has two fawns.

Mama Deer and Fawn in Front Yard
Click for larger image.
Bluebird Cove is what we named our one acre property when we moved in and established a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

We've had fun having a name for it, which was chosen because we saw lots of bluebirds that November of 2000 and we weren't used to seeing them in Alabama since we were in a more wooded environment. The 'cove' part of the name came from us being the last house before the cul-de-sac homes on our street. To me, a cul-de-sac is kinda like a cove, so it sounded good.

Visit the 2012 Bluebird Cove Critters photo album.
Visit the 2012 Bluebird Cove Garden photo album.

Speaking of wildlife gardening, I found a great informational website. It's amazing how long you can be online and still realize there's so much you haven't seen. has a forum articles, photos and all kinds of gardening info. You can get to know some folks from your own region of the country and find out what works and what doesn't in the garden ... or troubleshoot a gardening problem in the forum. Visit now!

Squeek, aka Kitty Girl, Soaking Up The Word
Squeek, our kitty, is doing very well at age 16. She has gotten over her previous idea that she'd get a new convertible for her recent birthday.  She realizes that being at home is the best place to be.

She shares my chaise chair on the screened porch. I generally have my morning time with the Lord there while it's still cool and when I leave to get more water or my breakfast, she takes over my Bible while I'm gone.

Any time I leave my open Bible anywhere, she will always choose to lay on it even rather than her favorite spots with her ruggie or basket. She obviously knows where the healing power of God resides! The Word is full of seeds that will bring forth a blade of growth and then dig its roots deep into our hearts to provide more life. That's how we apply the Word to our lives. As a seed that will produce all the promises of God that are stored in it.

I was reading about some seeds that were taken from an excavated Egyptian tomb near the Nile River at Dahshur, Egypt. It was estimated that the seed was at least 4,000 years old and kept so dry that it did not lose its vitality. That's amazing to me! God put everything in seeds that it would take to keep recreating itself. What an awesome and amazing God we call "Father."

White Ibis in Breeding Season
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC
I still struggle with wanting to DO something to speed up healing in this body.  I had learned to live with so many health problems, that now that I know I have an alternative to "living with it," I want it all to happen now!

I'm already healed based on I Peter 2:24 and many other Scriptures, but to believe it with my heart and not just my head is the process.  Jesus said, "if we believe with our hearts and do not doubt ... "

I also know that the more I think I have to DO something to make it happen, the less likely it is to happen because salvation and healing and all that God gives us has been provided by grace (unmerited favor of God), not by our works.

My head comprehends the definition but my heart has not yet grasped the immenseness of its effect on my spirit. Most of us were raised in a performance-based society so we're geared to think we need to DO something to get something. We have to earn our own way.

It seems that absorbing the love of God is a lifelong experience for the heart, even though our heads would say we understand His love for us, when we watch what we're thinking we realize we don't believe as much as we think we do about many things. What an exciting journey, but I admit it's also a struggle to stay tuned in when the world wants you to perform. Choosing right priorities will be a lifelong challenge.

Donna at Old City Cemetery - Lynchburg, VA
Thinking about the day I can grab hold and
swing to my heart's content!
Each morning I wake up and say, "Good Morning, Lord!" and then I check to see if I can make fists with my hands. The rheumatoid arthritis has given me fingers that have fused at the middle knuckles, so I've not been able to do that, but I have a long list of things I'm going to do when they are restored.

I'm going to ride a bike, swing on a swing (sweet memories with my grandfather pushing me), peel potatoes and chop lots of vegetables for a stir-fry, go kayaking and whitewater rafting. I'm going to bake and cook with joy.

When the pigment fills back in on my skin, I am going to spend some time on the beach baking in the sun, but mostly I want to dance in a wildflower meadow praising my Lord!  I keep seeing myself do this because after 36 years with this skin problem, I have to fill my mind with something other than what I've been seeing all that time.

One thing I know is that there comes a time in each disease or symptom that taking a step of faith completes the turn-around process.  I wasn't breathing well when I took back the oxygen concentrator, and yet I knew it was time.

I wasn't totally cleared of all excess fluids when I took the scale out of the bathroom and put away all my notes on day, time and weight.  I was using junk mail envelopes and had 51 sheets of records before I knew it was time to stop.

I've been purposely planning activities that make me walk up inclines to reinforce my healing of the heart.  Last weekend we took a trip to Lynchburg, Virginia, and the first stop on our day-trip itinerary was to visit Monument Terrace in the downtown area.  This is a steep climb of 132 or 139 steps (depending on where you read) to the top, with terraces of different memorials for various wars.  I just knew it was something I had to do.

Looking Down From The Top of Monument Terrace - Lynchburg, VA
139 steps from bottom to top - Yay, God! - More photos here.

I expected to make it to each terrace level and then catch my breath before going on to the next, but I was surprised to find that I could climb the steps at a pretty fast pace, get to the next terrace level, take some photos of each particular monument and then continue on up the side of this steep hill.  I was amazed and very excited when I got to the top.  After I downloaded the photos I checked to see the time they were taken so I could see how long it was from bottom to top:  10 minutes.  All praise to the Father!

I will close with some words from my dear friend, Dara, in South Carolina: "We need to sit and relax on His big lap and put our heads on His chest and hear His heart beat for us. That's where I love to be."

Love, Hugs and Many Blessings,

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Does God Punish Us?

by Donna L. Watkins

There are a lot of bad situations that come our way in life.  Some of them we've invited in from sin, which opens the doorway for the devil to mess with us.  Some come from natural consequences of our actions.  The principle of "you reap what you sow" applies to many of life's "gardens."

I was raised being told that God is the one doing these things to teach us something.  Then as I got into different denominations I was told that God doesn't directly send evil to us, but He allows the devil to do it so we might learn from it.

© Donna L. Watkins - Bee On Way to Lunch
Meems Covered Bridge - Mt. Jackson, VA
Neither of those beliefs made me feel very comfy and cozy with God the Father.  But Jesus I could snuggle up to, yet Jesus said again and again that "if you have seen Me ... or heard Me ... you have seen and heard the Father."

He also said in John 10:30 that "I and my Father are one."

He came to demonstrate the Father's love in the flesh. Look at what He did, how He did it, and why He did it.  Did Jesus teach anybody by making things bad for them?  Did He put disease on anybody to teach them something?  Where do we get the idea that God the Father would use these methods of correction. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

If God provided the Word for us to learn from, don't you think He would be the first one using it?  The Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and Jesus said that "My Words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63)." What more could we ask for?

God wants all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4), but all men are not saved. We get to choose whether to apply the Word. God wishes above all things that we be prosperous and in good health (3 John 1:2), but not all are prospered and healed. We get to choose whether we apply the Word.

Are we more likely to turn to God if we believe He is a God of anger and revenge? Many of us have had earthly fathers that were abusive and it doesn't place a good image on the word "father."

Consider the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and how the father allowed him to make his own choices and how he continued to love his son and look for him daily. When he saw him coming, he lifted up his robes and ran to meet him. Total and utter abandonment to his love for his son. And did he allow the son to wallow in his own condemnation? Did the father take time to condemn? He cut him off from even being able to apologize.

There was no focus on the sin, but only on love. The only picture Jesus painted of the Father was one of total love. Jesus paid the price for our sins, so we are now justified (just as if I'd never sinned) before God.

Did you notice in the Prodigal Son story that Scripture says, "he came to himself." That means he came to his senses and realized how good he had it at home. It doesn't say, "God finished the training session and the son decided to go back home." Tragedy often brings people out of deception and back to their senses. God had nothing to do with the circumstances that the son got himself into. In Jeremiah God said to him, "Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee" (Jeremiah 4:18).

Maybe we don't want to take responsibility for our own choices. It's easier to say that God allowed it to happen. God will allow His laws of the universe to continue as He established them. If you're leaning out a 20th story window and lean too far, gravity will take you to the sidewalk below. Did God do that to you? No. Through the laws of aerodynamics we can transcend Earth's gravity, such as flying and putting men in space. But it takes power to do this and if that power is turned off, the law of gravity is still there to cause whatever is in the air to drop.

According to those who think that God is in charge of every little detail of life would have to say that He did. You can't ride both sides of the fence. Either God is sovereign in every minute detail of life or He's allowing the principles/laws He put in place to operate.

If you were such a BIG and AWESOME God that the whole universe is held in the span on one of your hands, would you want to micro-manage what you created? Everything that God made came from a seed.  God didn't create the trees in Eden and then as they died off have to create some more to replace them.  He set things up so they would all recreate themselves.  It's amazing to think of seeds.  Even ones that they found that were thousands of years old in Egyptian tombs are still able to produce life.

God made man for fellowship, walking with him in the Garden of Eden every evening. Of course, He can do anything, but what He does is work within the principles that He created for this world and for us.  And that allows free will.  We wouldn't have free will if God arranged every detail of our day.  And if you say, "Well, He doesn't bother with every detail" then how do you choose when He's sovereign and when He's not with that theology? Did you know that the word "sovereign" is not used in the King James Version of the Bible?

Sovereign means "a person who has sovereign power or authority." Certainly God has all power and authority, but He gets to choose when to use it. I was taught it meant He was behind every thing that happened on earth. If we go out and drink and drive and kill others and ourself from an accident, does it mean that God decided our time was up? Did He suggest through the Holy Spirit to us that it was time to go get drunk and drive? Only the devil would do that, not a loving Father. I know this view of sovereignty with God is a hard one to swallow. It sure was for me until I had a paradigm shift and saw that it made no sense at all when you match it up with Scripture. Read more about The Sovereignty of God.

Some people get really angry when you talk to them about God's love and how good He is.  Why do we have such a challenge accepting God's love for us? We are still living under the curse of having to DO something, which is living under the curse of the law. Jesus came to redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), to make a New Covenant with us that operated through grace: Grace To Begin Again.

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