Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 11/15/15

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The Nature In Us Newsletter
November 15, 2015
By Donna L. Watkins

“The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less." -- Joseph B. Wirthlin

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Hello Dear Friends!

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Cedar Waxwing with Holly Berry
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Birds - On November 9th we had a flock of Cedar Waxwings come through as we usually do during migration time. They travel in flocks and the beauty of the bird is magnificent when you see a whole tree full of them. We usually get to see them coming and going as they say, but they are quick to get about their business and move on. Cedar waxwings are very social birds. This time they all landed around the backyard pond drinking from it and then flying up into the trees to wait for others. Then they went around front to have some holly berries and cedar berries, the berry they were named after. Their breeding range is the southern Canada to the northern half of the U.S. The winter range is from the U.S. and Mexico south to Panama.

They mostly eat berries which sets their ranges depending on supply. They will eat some insects and sap, but they are known for berries. They have been photographed lining up on a branch and passing berries back and forth to the rest of their fine-feathered friends on the branch. They have even been known to groom each other. I've seen them line up on branches, but never passing berries. They migrate according to where they know there is a supply of berries.

We have had oodles of holly berries since we have many bushes and we had 4 trees. This year 3 of them died so we only have one which has very few berries. The bushes seem to be full of them, but they're rather prickly to get to, although it doesn't seem any of the birds mind that. Get more info here.

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Dark-eyed Junco
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The Dark-eyed Junco appeared on November 6th. They're rather striking with their neat tuxedo gray in varying shades with their pink bills.  Their bright white tail feathers flash when in flight.  For several years we've had one that had quite a large white spot on it's rump, but I haven't seen that one this year yet.  They come from Canada, the Western mountains and the Appalachians. During Winter they appear in most areas of the Eastern United States. They are a forest bird and like to feed at feeders and the base of feeders.

Tidbit - Air Toxins and Indoor Plants - Did you know that NASA and ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America) conducted a study on the benefits of plants on indoor air? The results were outstanding. Houseplants were able to remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours.

Spathiphyllum, known better as Peace Lily, acts as a general air cleanser of many environmental pollutants, and will even filter contaminants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. That's pretty amazing. You would need multiple plants for a whole house, but you can do one room at a time, like the kitchen which is so filled with chemicals from particle board, polyurethane finishes and floor finishes. Check out more information here.

Health Care - Shopping for insurance? Have you heard of Medi-Share? It's the New Testament version of what we know as insurance. Christian members share each other's medical expenses through their "monthly share." Medi-Share is a not-for-profit ministry that began in 1993.

Medi-Share members (154,000+) have shared $1.1 billion in medical bills since the ministry's founding. It's not insurance in any form or fashion. Much easier than all that paperwork since Medi-Share is also an advocate for you to get lower rates in your medical bills since the provider is not having to file all those forms to collect on insurance or Medicare.

The Affordable Care Act includes a special provision, so Medi-Share members are exempt from the mandate to purchase insurance or face financial penalties. Plus you can join any day of the year. You can also choose your own Provider. Check out this post on the blog to know more.

Spiritual - Clint Byars, Pastor of Forward Church in Newnan, Georgia, has been doing some mini-videos just a few minutes long with interesting topics.  Sometimes a few minutes is all we need to get a revelation of something we just didn't see clearly.  That's how it was for my husband and me on Clint's "The Obedience of Faith" four-minute video.

It's incredible the images or definitions we have of some of the words in the Bible.  We read Scriptures and form an "opinion" of what they are saying to us, when in fact they may be saying something totally different.  That's why it's so wonderful to have the internet to access Greek and Hebrew concordances so you can dissect the actual word and it's meaning from the original language. 

At a recent Sunday service this was part of the message.  When the church was asked how many wanted to obey God, there was a show of 100%, but when asked if we thought we were not doing so good at obeying God, there was a show of 85-90%.  So why such a difference?  Maybe we misunderstand what "obey" means.

Clint says, "I would guess that all Christ followers want to obey God but often times we feel like we fall short. This is true for various reasons but one overwhelming reason we feel we're not obeying God is due to a wrong understanding of obedience.  Look at the Hebrew and Greek definitions of obey:

shama - Hebrew - to hear, to listen, to obey
hypakouō - Greek -  to listen, to harken, to submit to
peithō - Greek - to be persuaded, to trust, to have confidence, believe, to listen, to suffer one's self to be persuaded

The focus is listening and being persuaded. To obey God is to be persuaded of and confidently act on what He has said."

Check out the 4-minute video:  The Obedience of Faith 
Read more and/or listen to the full message.

Bugs - I looked out the dining room window one day and saw this huge dead beetle on its back. It was large enough to be a baby bird, so I had to see what it was. The greenish coloring of the back is not showing up in the photo and by the way, that split down the middle of the back separates the wings. This critter can and does fly especially in summer when attracted to lights. The size goes from 1.57-2.36 inches long. This one measured 1.75 inches and was 1 inch wide. With those outstretched legs he took up most of the palm of my hand while holding it.

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Female Eastern Hercules Beetle
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The Eastern Hercules Beetle was featured on a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in October 1999. Three days before finding this, I had photographed a Flower Fly which is a Yellow Jacket Mimic and it was also part of the USPS stamps issued in 1999. Odd! Adults are attracted to fermenting sap and fruits. The males have a long horn which projects forwards from the thorax and a second horn projects upwards from the head. As you can see, this is a female without the horns. This beetle is among the longest and heaviest beetles in the U.S. The horns are used in battles between males competing for a mate. The size of the horn reflects the availability of food when the beetle was growing. Despite the ominous size and the horns, it is harmless to humans.

They beetles live in mixed forests with large tree holes sometimes used continuously as breeding sites year after year where the larvae feed on damaged rotten and crumbling heartwood; no harm is done to living trees. They have many predators at varying stages of their life. The eggs are vulnerable to a mite. The grubs are eaten by woodpeckers, raccoons, skunks, ground beetles, spiders and centipedes. They emit a foul-smelling odor as adults trying to discourage predators such as bats, owls, and crows.

Besides this species of the Eastern U.S., which ranges from New York to Florida, west to Illinois, western Arkansas and eastern Texas, there are 13 known species of Hercules Beetle found in the jungles of South America. It was named for it's sheer size as some males have been known to reach nearly 7 inches in length in the rainforests. Although it is quite rare for these beetles to get quite so big, the average adult Hercules Beetle in S. America is usually between 1.5 and 5.9 inches long depending on the species. There's something just a bit freaky about a bug being so large ... but with all the time I've spent in Costa Rica ... it seems there's a lot of critters that are larger than what we're used to here. I guess it's the absence of winter (and the loss of food sources that comes with it).

View Enlarged ImageHuntsville, Alabama
Botanical Garden - Scarecrow Trail
Travel - About 7 years ago we traveled back to Alabama to visit Huntsville. Just wanted to look around and they had a botanical garden which was a drawing card for us. Since it was Fall they had a Harvest and Scarecrow theme which was really fun.

Not only were the gardens wonderful, the addition of unusual scarecrows and beautiful butterflies was just superb! Obviously the Fall time of year doesn't offer a ton of stuff in bloom, so all the great scarecrow presentations really made it special. Travel back to visit the Huntsville Botanical Garden and Scarecrow Trail.

Tidbit - Telemarketers - Someone from "behind enemy lines" came forward to give invaluable tips on dealing with those harassing calls.  He explains that roughly 90% of telemarketing calls are made from specialized call centers, not the business itself.  From Bank of America to EA Games, everyone is outsourcing this stuff.  Often, it's to places like India, but there are still plenty of call centers here in Uncle Sam's country.  The numbers they call are on an auto-dialer which recycles numbers on a monthly basis.  And as for the human you eventually talk to, they're armed with a bag of tricks loaded with everything they need to convince you to say YES.   

Get some helpful tips from this article:  Secrets of Telemarketing From an Industry Insider.

Make laughing a part of every day.  The Bible says that a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22).


P.S. See anything in here that might help somebody you know?  Please share! 

Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter.

If you simply want to copy and paste the link into an email, here it is:

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