Friday, June 30, 2006

The Grace We've Been Given

by Donna L. Watkins

© Donna L. Watkins - Male House Finch
I've had a wrong perspective during my life of how I was supposed to handle the battles in my life, and what God was supposed to do for me. I grew up as a Daddy's girl and it's been easy for me to see God as a good God. I know many have a deep pain because they didn't have good earthly fathers and that affects how they see God.

However, even for those who had good relationships with their fathers, there is still a warped view of who God is. Since my Daddy would give me anything he could and was always there to fix things for me, I saw God as replacing him in those roles. My daddy died in 1986, so I expected God to take care of everything for me just like my earthly dad did.

I wasn't prepared to have to fight my own battles with the strength that was left behind for me and with the power that I received because I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I simply wanted my "Heavenly Daddy" to do it all for me.

Consider these excerpts from a sermon I heard not too long ago:

Jude 3 - "... I felt I had to write and urge you to contend (fight) for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Our goal is not only to contend for the faith delivered to the early church, but also to actually attain it.

When it comes to contending for the calling of God and pursuing His destiny for your life and ministry - I know of two "rules" that must be understood:

1) The sovereignty of God (sovereignty = free of external control)

2) The grace of God (grace = the ability & desire to do what you should do)

Nobody can change your destiny and purpose in life except you! The devil can't do it. God will only use it for good when the devil messes with you. Romans 8:28 promises that. Other people can't ruin your life unless you let them. Remember how hard Joseph's brother tried to get rid of him and what it all turned out to be? (Read Genesis 37-41)

There are many ways to look at a situation. You can get bitter or you can get better. This story illustrates two views of the same situation:

A man had the idea to expand his business and put a shoe factory in a rather "wild" part of Australia. He put in a call to two contacts that he knew nearby to ask for their thoughts. He received a call from one of them and the guy said, "No way! Don't even consider it. These people don't wear shoes, so there is no need, therefore the demand is not there. Cancel all plans!" He hung up and before he could even think about that, the second guy called. He said, "Wow! What a great idea! These people don't even have shoes, the demand is great! How soon can you get production started?"

Do you remember the story of Peter in Luke when Jesus tells him that Satan has asked for permission to sift him as wheat, but He has prayed that his faith would not fail? Peter responded that he would go to prison or even die with Jesus. Of course, we know the end to that story. Do you think that maybe it was pride that opened the doorway for Satan to be allowed to "sift" Peter?

Do you notice that Jesus didn't take the situation away from Peter? He didn't tell the devil to leave. He prayed for Peter's faith not to fail. Jesus lives at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. He is praying the same thing for us in thess battles we face in life - that our faith will not fail!

Remember the lame man beside the pool of Bethesda? Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed? What would you say if Jesus asked you that today? I'd scream "Yes!" The guy began listing off the reasons why he hadn't been healed ... maybe he was saying why it was "impossible" to be healed. He had been sick for 38 years. That's a long time. How much hope did he have left to even come to lay beside the pool waiting for that stirring. God told him to take up his bed and walk. He took some faith and added a bit of responsibility and was healed.

Are we waiting for Him to do it for us? I love miracles. Instant and easy! Some are waiting for a miraculous healing, for the greatest job, for a good break, for the right person. This attitude doesn't take our part into consideration. We have been given grace to accomplish whatever our heart desires.

Let's ask ourselves these questions and take an honest look inside of what our true expectations are:

Q - What "lameness" are you suffering from today?

Q - What "stirring of the water" are you depending on with regard to your healing or personal destiny?

Q - Are you "surrendering" to sovereignty or grace?

Q - Are you willing to "receive by faith" the grace that God would extend to you?

Q - What is Jesus commanding you to do? What is necessary for you to "pick up" in order to fulfill the plan God has for your life?

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2007 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription. Link URL:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Holland America Baltic Sea Cruise

We've been blessed with so many trips around the world with Nature's Sunshine. It's certainly one of the many reasons I love my work. This trip to the Baltic Sea provided plenty of new experiences and wildlife sightings. I'm not too fond of city ports, but I do like architecture so that was my focus along with some people and park scenes. This trip was June 20-30, 2005. Holland America Baltic Cruise Photo Album

Seek First

by Donna L. Watkins

Read these words afresh from Matthew 6 and allow them to impart their power into your soul and spirit:

" No man can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,
what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air:
for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,
which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,
shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
....for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you."

Is this for real? How do we walk through life not thinking of our needs? The media bombards us with more and more that we need to have. People around us tell us we need to get things. We work to get a check so we can get food and clothes and stuff. How do we get our continual focus off of daily activities and the worries of life?

God offers a way out! Matthew 6:33 is the recipe: "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be adde unto you."

If I change my focus off of daily frustrations and trying to meet my own needs, and focus on God, seek His face and seek to know Him .... then all of these "things" will be added unto me.

Seems God could do a better job of providing things than I can anyway, but yet we take control of our own lives and set our list in order and move forward to check it off. In control of our own lives ... but yet we've given our lives to God and He has promised in many ways to provide for us.

He's asked us to trust Him and He will take care of us.

Power is an evil thing. We take power over our lives when we are given the example of powerlesssness by God and Jesus. God came to earth as a powerless baby -- Jesus went to the Cross as a powerless man. Obedience brought the power of God to Earth and through His power much is accomplished - not by our power or control.

Oswald Chambers is a favorite of mine and he has a way of making you look at a Scripture in a whole new light. From "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers:

Immediately we look at these words of Jesus, we find them the most revolutionary statement human ears ever listened to. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."

We argue in exactly the opposite way - "But I must live; I must make so much money; I must be clothed; I must be fed." The great concern of our licws is not the Kingdom of God, but how we are to fit ourselves to live. Jesus reverses the order: Get rightly related to God first, maintain that as the great care of your life, and never put the concern of your care on the other things.

" Take no thought for your life....." Our Lord points ou the utter unreasonableness from His standpoint of being so anxious over the means of living.

Jesus is not saying that the man who takes thought for nothing is blessed - that man is a fool. Jesus taught that a disciple has to make his relationship to God the dominating concentration of his life, and to be carefully careless about everything else in comparison to that, Jesus is saying -" Don't make the ruling factor of your life what you shall eat and what you shall drink, but be concentrated absolutely on God."

Some people are careless over what they eat and drink, and they suffer for it; they are careless about what they wear, and they look as they have no business to look; they are careless about their earthly affairs, and God holds them responsible.

Jesus is saying that the great care of the life is to put the relationship to God first, and everything else second.

It is one of the severest disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy spirit to bring us into harmony with the teaching of Jesus in these verses.

Right now, consider becoming a lily of the field. Toil not, spin not. It's so peaceful not to spin - not to have your mind swirling with thoughts and things to do and worries about the future and past.

God will take care of it if we take our hands and mind out of it and rest in Him and focus on who He is and who we are in Him. That's where the true power is.

Be a lily!
I'll see you in the field :-)

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Speckled Bird Eggs Are Stronger

For more than a hundred years scientists and birders have engaged in a heated debate over a seemingly harmless question: Why are birds' eggs speckled?

Many experts believed that the markings are camouflage, useful in concealing eggs from predators. But for many bird species, the facts don't quite add up.

Now British ornithologists, or bird zoologists, have shown that speckling may be a unique solution to the engineering problem of how to strengthen unusually fragile shells.

A new study shows that pigment chemicals that create the speckles may act as a kind of glue, supporting thin areas of shell and protecting them from breakage during incubation in the nest.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Gray Tree Frogs On Deck

Our Gray Tree Frogs have been on the deck again this year in the planters that I line up on the rail for heritage petunias. They are so loud at night that we have to laugh.

There are two of them and they switch pots and corners to pop out of since the bottoms to the pots are designed to hold water with an opening on each corner to fill. They hang out of there and let me talk to them.

One day I was scrubbing them down trying to get the dirt and scale off of them. When I turned it around with one hanging out. He didn't budge while I cleaned. Just sat there hanging out watching me.

When they get to being romantic they huff and puff and sing loud love songs. As you can see he was singing away, but I didn't see any female in sight other than myself. Gee, does that mean I look like a frog?

Learn more about Gray Tree Frogs.

Nesting Birds

Last week I heard a Flycatcher on the dead tree outside our breakfast window. With my binoculars I saw it was a Great-crested Flycatcher. We've had flycatchers nesting in our woods for years. In AL we had them nest in a box right outside one of our bedroom windows and we became very familiar with it's nesting behavior and calls.

An interesting fact is that Great-crested Flycatchers build their nest and then add a strip of shiny plastic or a snakeskin which they may even leave trailing out the hole. Seems to me that's an announcement to predators.

At one of the bird boxes we have in the back, there was some snakeskin lying on the ground. It wasn't "fresh" since it was a bit wrinkled and worn, so I can only assume it had come from the birdhouse above it. Maybe somebody had cleared it out to build a nest of their own.

Not all nesting stories are successful. There was a finch nest on the front porch and after the birds were gone I took it down to clean it and found a dead juvenile in it. You can see the bird in the nest and also some new nesting material that was added to the original nest. Very odd.

This bird was definitely old enough to be flying about, but something must have happened. Maybe it wouldn't leave the nest and starved. If you have any ideas, please give me your thoughts via the comment area below.

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