Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Newsletter - 1/15/14

                    View This Newsletter On the Website.                    

"Human love is fickle but God's love is constant.  It is the bedrock of the universe and the reason you are here.  Just look at the night sky.  He put those stars there to impress you with the astronomical extravagance and of His love.
 -- Paul Ellis, The Gospel in 10 Words
Donna with Chloe the Camel
Blue Ridge Mountains Farm
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Hello Dear Friends!
Now that we're into 2014 I've been thinking about how fast birthdays come and go the older you get ... and one of my favorites was my 60th birthday year when I decided to find 60 new adventures to enjoy during that year.  

Our son came to visit for my actual birthday in September and as usual most of our time was spent outdoors and one of our favorite places is the Blue Ridge Mountains.  One of the highlights of the day was to meet Chloe, a camel at Mountainside Petting Farm.  What a delight to be loved on by a camel.  Chloe was super friendly and this was one main adventure of the 60 I discovered that year.  [View blog posts of the 60 adventures.]

We've had some pretty cold days here in Central Virginia but from what I've heard, it's been cold in many places.  It certainly makes you count heat as a daily blessing, along with a nice warm quilt or blanket to cover up with at night.

I am always amazed at God's provision for the creatures.  He uses our hands to provide for them and they give us such enjoyment.  Their persistence of doing what needs to be done each day, which is mostly get a full tummy of food to stay alive during the night.  It sure brings "simple living" to another level with that one focus in Winter.  I wonder if they think about Springtime also.  Many species get paired off during Fall and Winter and others call for a mate when Spring arrives.  Do birds dream of the future?

Female Cardinal
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The male cardinals have already begun fussing at each other, so they must be scanning the options of the available females.  We had an abundance of cardinal babies in 2013, so there are lots of options.  I wonder where the rest of them will go as they begin to choose territories for themselves and their nests.

The heated birdbaths are a busy place.  Since my office is in the breakfast area for the winter, I can look out the window at the deck where we have one.  That window also has a holly tree against it (that we thought was a bush when we planted it), and the birds line up in it or on the rail by it for their turn at the birdbath.  Very sweet!

A large flock of American Robins arrived the first week of January and gleaned a lot of the holly berries that they enjoy each year.  They are such a striking bird to view and photograph.  I suppose it's that white eye ring and orange breast.  Robins are industrious birds as they pull worms out of the ground in Spring.  

American Robins at the Pond
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I like the way they proudly bounce across the ground with the proper posture of a Queen, erect with beak tilted up to survey the area.  They also enjoy the pond.  I often wonder if there's some special nutrients in our pond that birds and critters like so much.  Birds have options for other water sources, but it seems they all like to take a sip at the pond now and then.

I grew up in Pennsylvania and when we saw Robins we knew Spring was near.  Not so here.  I don't know where they come from or where they go, but after they fill their tummies with the berries for a few days, they are off and gone again, until the official announcement time of Spring has arrived.

And then there are squirrels, our year round guarantee of entertainment.  They do some of the funniest things.  Even when they're being naughty they look so cute.  We put our old mailbox in the backyard for the birds to nest in, but the squirrels seem to consider it theirs.  They use it to stand up and scout the area, as a place to clean up while being able to see any plan of attack by one of the gang, and as you can see in the photo, sometimes they just like to rest on it.

Squirrel Sunbathing in Winter
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I like to say this squirrel is waiting for the mail lady to bring his winning notice of the sweepstakes, but in actuality, I think it's more likely it's found a great place to take a winter's break on some warm black metal heated by the sun.

I always amazed at the diversity of critters we get here on our one acre of property, but then we do have a lot of woods behind us which helps to make up the habitat.  We are so grateful for that.

If you'd like to browse our 2013 photos of our little wildlife habitat we call Bluebird Cove, here's links to them:

Bluebird Cove Critters 2013
Bluebird Cove Garden 2013
Bluebird Cove Videos 2013

If you've not visited our habitat Critters and Garden albums lately, here's the links to take a look at what we've been seeing this year: Bluebird Cove Critters 2013 Bluebird Cove Garden 2013 Bluebird Cove Videos 2013 - See more at:

I've been studying about what Christ did for us on the Cross, what the Father did for us when He sent His beloved Son to earth to bear the sins and diseases of every human being that would ever be born.  And while He hung on that Cross, our Father placed us in Christ so that we could die to the old man made in the image of Adam, to rise to life being a new creature in Christ.  I cannot mentally comprehend and reason out the work of the Cross and that's why I want to dig deep because understanding only comes by revelation from the Holy Spirit.  

Some of us seem to have allowed our minds to rule our lives for many years, when we were created for our heart/spirit to rule instead.  I often picture Christ hanging on the Cross carrying all of my diseases (Matt. 8:17 - “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”).  Why would I not want to take the whole package of the atonement?  Salvation was easy since we had to rely on faith and grace to make that happen.  You can't look back and actually see in your mind that our sins were actually forgiven.  We had to rely on God's faithfulness to us to know we now had eternal life in Him. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
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With disease, we have a physical body that is continually telling us the state of our physical condition, which shouts louder than what God tells us has occurred (I Peter 2:24 - "by whose stripes ye were healed").  Then there's the issue of being worthy.  If we have had the Law preached at us all of our lives, we think that we have to be good to get something from God which makes no sense at all since God has already provided it for us.  As if not taking His provision would make the sacrifice any less painful for Jesus when He bore it all. 

Somewhere in childhood, we were generally trained that to get something really special, you have to be a very very good girl/boy.  None of us are ever very very good on any given day (Romans 3:23 - "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God").  If we could be good enough to earn salvation or healing, then God wouldn't have had to sacrifice His Son for us.  God tells us in 3 John 1:2:  "I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."  God wants us well, but He is telling us that it is up to the condition of our soul.  Our mind, will and emotions determine whether or not we're in health. 

How we see our identity in Christ is of great importance.  We became a new creature (in our spirit) when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but the old man had many programs in our mind (soul) that needed to be edited, erased or totally destroyed.  The Bible calls the process 'renewing the mind.'  

Who We Are In Christ
• I am the righteousness of Christ - 2 Corinthians 5:21
and a temple of the Holy Spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:19
• I have the mind of Christ - 1 Corinthians 2:16
• I am anointed by God - 1 John 2:27
• An heir in Christ - Romans 8:17
• I am equipped with the full armor of God - Ephesians 6:13
Do We Believe It?

"Longing for Springtime" 
Donna at Brookgreen Gardens
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We were taken out of this world to be part of God's family, but we have to choose to take the world out of our minds by following the instructions of Romans 12:2"  "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  When we do this, it says we will find God's will for our lives.  What a delight that will be for our hearts since we were born with a God-given plan and purpose, and sadly, most Christians never find out what that plan is.

Oh, how I wish the wisteria was blooming in Charlottesville.  There's one building downtown that is covered with it and it's hard to keep my eyes on the road as I pass by in Spring.  We had wisteria at our place in Alabama.  It's an aggressive plant and took a lot of work to keep up with, but it was so beautiful, especially since my favorite color is purple.

Last week was a real challenge for me with health issues and also the slow tedious wait of death for a dear friend off life support.  After a massive stroke on the 4th there was little hope of recovery and by the 7th his wife chose morphine and "the wait" which ended on the 12th.  He wasn't responsive most of that time but she stayed with him the 8 days and right before he passed away, he opened his eyes and looked at her and then, in peace, was gone.

They were such a wonderful couple, and Bob was so genuinely interested in people, whether waiters at a restaurant or somebody who needed help walking down the street.  They live across the street from us and were our first friends when we moved here to Virginia from Alabama in 2000.  

Power Protein Bars

We made some delicious "power bars" over the weekend and they're really great so I wanted to share the recipe (with the changes I made noted on the ingredients):

3 cups old fashioned oats
½ cup peanut/almond butter (I used peanut butter that I had already opened)
3 scoops protein powder (optional) (protein is the reason I wanted to make these)
¼+ cup sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
2 T flaxseeds (I used chia seeds for omega-3 values)
¼-½ cup dried fruit (raisins, dates, etc) (I used 1/2 cup raisins)
2 T cocoa powder (I used 4 T. carob powder)
¼ cup raw, local honey

Mix together and spread into 9X13 pan. Cut and wrap individual portions in foil.
(I used a 9" square pan and cut them as I wanted to eat them.)  Keep in refrigerator.

May 2014 be filled with many special moments that make special memories.  Remember life is about people.  Focus on relationships and that includes deepening your love for our Lord.

Hugs and Many Blessings!

P.S.  Anything in here that might help somebody you know?  
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter: 
Newsletter - 1/15/14

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written by Donna

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