Saturday, March 24, 2007

Finances: Don't Take Another Bite

by Donna L. Watkins

It has been a few years since I have read through the Bible from beginning to end so with a new year beginning, I considered it would be a good time to do it again. I generally don't read far in the Bible before my mind begins thinking about the story behind the story.

I love to look up Hebrew and Greek words in Strong's concordance to get a deeper meaning of what is being said. This article on a bit of Genesis is written with passion for you! For individual lives caught in the devil's money trap. My prayer is that you will not just scan these words because you've heard similar ones before. Take these words and thoughts to heart and seek our Father's face.

I've read Genesis so many times and especially the familiar part where Eve was tempted with the apple and ate and then gave it to Adam who also ate in disobedience. What was the result? Man was cursed with having to work to eat and woman was cursed with pain in childbirth. Doesn't that make you think about what Adam and Eve did before they were cast out of the Garden of Eden? What was God's ideal plan for us when He created humans? He made a beautiful place to be enjoyed with plants, animals, sunshine and the garden being watered by a river flowing through it. God made man to fellowship with Him. God walked with them in the Garden.

Adam had been commanded to tend and care for the garden. Food was provided on trees that he could eat from, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The gardener role paints a picture of stewardship. Watching over something that was given to you to enjoy without ownership. As we know, all of that ended when they sinned and put disobedience between themselves and God, which has been passed down to all generations since, which is why we need a Savior to put us back into relationship with God.

Man was made to "do something." He was given the Garden to tend and a wife to be a helpmeet. Beauty all around him and a leisurely type of work. After sin entered in with the curses in Genesis 3, man was told he would sweat to eat his food and the ground would be cursed with thorns and thistles. What a change in lifestyle to be cast out of this beautiful garden into the land where they would "eat the plants of the field."

What I thought about as I read this was the contrast between what that curse was and the curse we have placed on ourselves. We have been given money to watch over and steward. Our attitude with all that comes our way should be that it is not ours, but the Lord's. Jesus gave us an example in Matthew 25 with a parable of the servants, who each were given a sum of money to manage while the Master was away. The Bible says that "after a long time" (our lifetime?) the Master (Jesus?) returned and settled accounts with them (Judgment Day?).

Those who had invested well and had made gains (rewards in Heaven?) were rewarded with being "in charge of many things." The one who gave back only what had been given to him was rebuked and what he had was taken from him and given to another. A hard saying for certain.

What does that say to us? How are we as Christians managing our money? Any differently than the world is doing? Are we building up rewards in Heaven? Will we be able to return an increase in what we have been given in our lifetime?

Consumerism and debt are at an all-time high and climbing. Things, gadgets, excess food and drink, and stuff have replaced the commands for stewardship of what has been given to us. We are a nation of wide-eyed looks on the newest, biggest and shiniest. Many of these trinkets are believed to be needs by the masses. The actual need is not fulfilled with objects and stuff because the need is love, which can only be fully gained from our Abba Father. Like the old song, people are looking for love in all the wrong places and coming up still empty.

Statistics are quoted about the low amount of savings that people have and when you consider the debt they have, in reality, they have no savings. People have spent their future on consumable products that are used up before they are paid for. Their life choices are limited because the "borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7).

God said we must work to eat ... but nowhere in the Bible do I see frantic-paced lifestyles. How many work hours a day are needed to provide adequate (not excess) food for our families? Not 40, 50 or 60 hours. How many hours to provide a home for people and actual needs, not a building that has 75% of its space used to store all the stuff.

The January 2007 AARP Bulletin had a segment called, "Plastic Appeal." Credit card companies are experimenting with various textures, sounds, and even perfume and coffee scents. American Express is testing a "butterfly" credit card that folds in half and has a nifty silver case. The goal is to get their credit card in that coveted "top of the wallet" position. Look at and think about these numbers:

$16 billion total profits in 2005 for the 10 largest U.S. credit card issuers
$14.8 billion is levied on cardholders in late and over-limit penalties

Late fees are not the only penalty of a late payment. With universal default now in place, if you’re late paying your credit card bill, your insurance, mortgage or car loan rates can also increase. If you’re late paying your insurance premiums and most other bills, your credit card interest rate may double. Would you buy that $24,000 vehicle with 6 year payments if you knew you were actually paying over $30,000 for it?

Do you know how much you're paying in utilities, insurance, taxes and mortgage to store stuff that you don't even remember you have? Is it worth it? Advertising makes us think something only costs what the monthly payment is, but it is costing us our future and is stealing a godly heritage from our children. The Enemy keeps us on the treadmill trying to keep up minimum payments while searching for meaning in life through plastic instead of Biblical principles.

Credit card companies are making billions while children are dying for lack of one meal a day. Unicef reports that some 4000 children die every day because they don’t have access to an adequate supply of clean water. We partner with an organization that puts in wells for communities in Africa that have no water supply at all. They walk miles to get water that is unsanitary. They have no crops and no animals for farming or food because without water all life dies.

How much money are you spending on interest each year? What could you do with that in the Kingdom of God? It costs $5,000 to put a well that provides water for an entire African community. That well changes the lives of so many. Unsanitary water does not keep death away for long, especially for children. That's only one of many passions I share with you. The Enemy is winning far too many to his way of thinking here on Earth. He can't keep us out of Heaven, but he make sure we have no inheritance when we get there by getting us to focus on what we want TODAY rather than what we want for ETERNITY.

As Christians we've eaten too many apples offered from the tree we were commanded not to eat from. Debt has disabled the ability to give joyfully and to live in freedom. Consider getting out! There are many books in the library that can help. Be accountable to somebody. You will need an arm to hang on to as you try to pull yourself out of the quicksand. It can be done if you contract with God to do it. In 1990 we had already gotten out of credit card debt, but we signed a $100,000 mortgage and two car loans. We knew better, but we ate the shiny apple (a different variety). The shine wore off and we repented and told God that we wanted out of debt totally, house and all, and asked for His help to free ourselves, committing to him our self-control. It became a hobby! It was a race to see how fast we could get out of the debt trap.

In 7 years we were totally out of debt including the mortgage and we tithed off of our gross income as we always had. Before your mind wanders to our huge annual income to do it, you need to know that in 1990 we made $10,004 annual income between the two of us. We had a business of our own and it was growing slowly but we knew this was the direction God had for us. In those 7 years we averaged $52,471 total annual income. You can't figure it on paper, but God did it as we stood on our commitment and made the choice to make freedom more important than today's baubles and dainties. Provision came in many ways other than income. Before we purchased definite needs, we would ask God to provide them and give Him time to send them. We were amazed at what we received with only God knowing what we needed. Our clothes, appliances and groceries seemed like the widow's oil. They all lasted longer. It's mystical to ponder because it's like a fairy tale.

You don't have to do it alone. All you have to do is say "no" to temptation and practice the Bible principle of self-control. It will bring in benefits you have never been able to imagine and they are all better than any "thing" you can purchase. I ask again, how much interest did you pay to lenders last year? Couldn't you do better things with it? Wouldn't you? Are you preparing for your future or expecting your children or the government to care for you? These are tough questions, but the financial statistics of those reaching 60 are not good, so expecting things to get better down the road is only another deception. You are forming lifestyles and habits that not only bind you, but the lives of your children also.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cats Need Entertainment

Squeek On Porch ThroneSqueek has enjoyed the warmer Spring weather. Having been a feral cat (or is it once a feral, always a feral?), she enjoys her time outside on our screened porch, but does not like cold weather any more than I do.

On one of our warmer days, I uncovered the outside furniture and placed what we call her throne, in the corner of the screened porch. She likes to keep an eye on the neighbor's two dogs and one kitty, not to mention all the squirrels and birds.

She certainly gets plenty of entertainment to keep her mind active and alert. Keeping pets entertained when they are alone is very important.  Check out this article.

Monday, March 19, 2007

About The Praying Mantis

by Donna L. Watkins

Praying Mantis Closeup
The Praying Mantis is such a unique looking bug that most people are familiar with. It is considered a beneficial insect for gardens. Two of its relatives are the grasshopper and cockroach.

Mantises range in size from 1/2 inch to 12 inches long depending on the species and location. The nearly 2,000 species are widely distributed throughout tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas of the world.

Some species have no wings, but the ones we see here at Bluebird Cove have 2 pairs of wings. The largest one we've had in our garden was 5 inches long.

This insect ambushes its prey and captures it. They do not actively hunt for prey, but instead wait in perfect stillness, virtually invisible on a leaf or stem of its own coloring, ready to seize whatever may be within grabbing distance. When the prey is close enough, the mantis thrusts its pincerlike forelegs forward to grasp the prey. Along the inside of the leg, there are rows of hooked spines that minimize any chance of escape. The mantis then bites the head off first and continues to consume it. This Buckeye butterfly got away.

Mantis and a Butterfly That Got Away
Its diverse appetite includes all insects, butterflies, and even other mantises, which makes them solitary critters, being widely spaced within their own territorial habitats.

These habitats include gardens where they can be beneficial although we will have no input on its choice of meals. It has been noted that they have caught and consumed hummingbirds.

Mantises have a number of predators, particularly birds, so to discourage them from attacking, the mantis will strike out with their spiny forelegs hoping to scare the bird away.

Mantis Disguised Amongst Leaves
Their first line of defense is to avoid detection with their coloring and stillness. Can you see the mantis in this photo? It's a view from the top.

Those that dwell in bushes and grass are colored green, while tree dwellers are often mottled brown. The flower mantises in Africa and the Far East so closely resemble the flowers that insects often land on them to get nectar.

Pair of Praying Mantises Mating
The male mantis performs a ritual dance and the female, instead of attacking her mate, responds with a dance of her own. While the female dance begins with a menacing stance, it ends with a non-threatening posture which signals her receptiveness to mate.

The female has been known to eat the male after mating, but this may be only in captivity when she has not been fed enough or in the wild when food supplies are lacking.

You can tell a pregnant female since her abdomen is swollen. After mating, the female lays her eggs (up to 400) in batches enclosed in a tough, spongy encasement called an ootheca. The ootheca is attached to fence posts, twigs, stems, or sometimes buried in the ground.

The one you see in the photo is now on our dining room window sill. It was amidst the mums that we trimmed back a week ago. I always look for things to discover when we prune back our perennials in the Spring. You don't want to destroy the natural predators that nature has provided.

Praying Mantis Egg Case on Twig
To keep the egg case protected from predators, I placed it between the window and screen so it would have normal temperatures so the "little ones" would not come out too soon. We had another egg case outside our breakfast window on a holly bush that a bird had gotten into. It will be interesting to see if any nymphs come out of that egg case.

No matter what size the mantis is, the eggs are all the same size. Some females stand guard over their eggs until the nymphs (young) emerge unless it will be overwintering.

Protection is needed from parasitic wasps that lay their eggs in the eggs of the mantis. The eggs will hatch in 3 weeks to 6 months depending on the temperature and humidity. The young will emerge from tiny holes in the casing. The nymphs will go through a series of molts (shedding of skin) as they grow into adult mantises.

See more photos of critters at Bluebird Cove.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Escaping Temptation

by Donna L. Watkins

What temptations are you challenged with? Too much shopping, television, food, anger at not being able to control others around you? I was trapped by chocolate. It seemed to rule my life. When I wanted to celebrate I thought chocolate. When I was miserable and needed comfort, I thought chocolate. When there was a holiday, it was all about chocolate. I grew up near Hershey, PA, and my dad had relatives working in the factory, so we had 25 pound melting blocks of chocolate in our refrigerator. We used an ice pick to chop off pieces and placed them in a bowl kept in the refrigerator for ready access.

I watched my mom eat chocolate until she was so sick from so much of it in her system. I learned well the pattern that you ate food for comfort. Why would I continue to eat anything beyond my mind and body screaming for my hand to stop feeding my mouth? I was compelled to finish "the whole thing." Looking back my life seemed to revolve around this addiction. I didn't see it then, but so much of my thinking was about chocolate. I struggled with this while single and when I married and changed to a natural food diet in the late 70's sugar was no longer on the approved list of household foods. That didn't take it off of my mind.

Funny I never noticed that eating for comfort brought any comfort to my mom .... nor myself, but for a fleeting moment. Those first few bites of delectable joy would turn into sickness and guilt at being so out of control. Self-control is at the basis of any life goal whether diet, finances, or relationships. It's a learned behavior and it provides grand and wonderful results in life. Self-control will allow you to reach the goals and dreams you have. If you want to be the picture of health, you'll need to control what you eat and consider the amount of exercise you get. If you have a financial goal, you will only attain it if you have self-discipline to save rather than spend. If you need instant gratification of surrounding yourself with many little things, you will never reach the goal of getting the big things.

If you win the lottery, it will not solve the problem if your pattern is to get what you want now. You will burn through those lottery bucks as fast as you do your own paycheck, because it's self-discipline that determines where you get to in finances or any other area of life.

God provides a way of escape for the temptations that steal your life away. He knew you would have them and when you got saved it was part of the package to have a way out. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray." Paul struggled with temptations, the new and old nature, and he chose to press toward the mark (the goal), forgetting what was behind and looking ahead. (Phillipians 3)

In I Corinthians 9:27 Paul said he beat his body and makes it his slave. We do not have to be carried away into debt, a search for acceptance in wrong places, or obesity. You can't watch much television, read newsprint and magazines, or spend time walking in malls and shopping centers if you want to listen to other voices than what the world is saying. The world around you is in financial chaos. Companies will try any way they can to keep you consuming. Most credit card debt is for purchases that are gone before the debt is even paid off.

You can live in the world, but not be of it. It's still a choice! God says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (I Corinthians 10:13) I think we make deals with the devil every day when we don't live true to ourselves. I struggled with chocolate for many years battling the thoughts for many months before I would allow myself to have "just one piece" and then fall into the addiction all over again. I tried to do it only on my own strength.

One day I humbled myself and told God that I couldn't do it. I needed His way of escape and made a deal with God. If He would take away my craving, I would always say "NO" to chocolate. I had just eaten some so I knew I would need some time to physically withdraw from the chocolate. I didn't expect to immediately not crave it. It was in my system, so I had to continue to take that way of escape and say 'no' until it was out of my system. As I remember it was about three weeks. After that I never had the craving for chocolate again. That was in November 1998. In January of the following year, our son "left the nest" and moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, and I was also dealing with menopause.

I kept my eyes on the Master, on my commitment. I didn't crave it and I didn't want it, but my mind could not believe either of those facts. It seemed as though I could have eat it and not be bothered by it, but I had a commitment and a deal made with God. It's been over 8 years and my mind still can't believe it. We earned a cruise trip last year and they had a chocolate night with everything chocolate, besides all the chocolate on the dessert tables every day. Nothing moved me. It's a settled issue. The devil can't take me there again. No more ups and downs with mood swings, no more battles in my mind for needing chocolate.

Police Dogs Tempted Dog trainers begin by throwing the dog a piece of meat. As time progresses the dog is trained to desire obeying the "master" more than his desire to eat. The trainer teaches him to keep his eyes on the "master" no matter what is put before him. This photo has traveled around the internet many times.

As you look at this long line of German Shepherds with a cat walking five feet in front of them, you will notice various levels of the obedience mentioned above. None of them have left the line to go after the cat. However, there is one just about dead center that is standing, the rest are still sitting. Some are looking at the cat, some are looking at the trainer. What a great example of the power within us to do right. Not right because of some law or rule, but to do what we really want to do in our heart. Let God's "escape" allow you to set your coarse for your goal and make it!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Monarch Butterflies and Waystation Program

Monarch Newly BornOur warm days have turned into rainy chilly days for the weekend, but I know that Spring is here because things are budding and the daffodils are blooming. The longer days of light since Daylight Savings Time turned our clocks ahead have been really nice also.

We became part of the Monarch Watch Waystation Program last year. We were amazed to know the large variety of nectar plants we already had in our yard and we had added milkweed a few years back from an area that was about to be developed. We moved a lot of plants from that field and it's so nice to know that they have provided a place for Monarchs to make it. There's concern about the Monarch population, so you might want to find out more about the fun Monarch Waystation program.

This Monarch was in the area where we had moved the milkweed and other butterfly plants. Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars will feed on, so adding a few to your yard will make a huge difference in preserving Monarchs. Find out all you ever wanted to know about Monarchs at the Monarch Watch website.

Like this butterfly having just emerged from the chrysalis beside it, Spring makes me emerge from my winter woes to feel totally reborn! I've had so much energy and so many fun projects in the yard and home. Now that the daffodils are blooming, I'm already thinking butterflies. Isn't it just human nature to never be satisfied? Contentment is a lifelong classroom with many arenas of temptation.

Our bluebirds are nesting and the finches and wrens have begun choosing abodes. Life is busy all around. Take some time this Spring to discover what's in your own backyard and nurture it along with some ideas from the Backyard Wildlife Habitat site.

Seeking Participants for "My Yard Counts!"

Yards can be important areas for wild birds. What features around your residence are most helpful to them?

Help researchers learn more about how birds use rural, suburban, and urban landscapes by participating in a new citizen-science project, "My Yard Counts!"

It's easy - just record all the birds you see around your residence for 20 minutes every week from April to August and fill out a one-time questionnaire about the environment around your home. Get details.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bluebird Cove in March (Virginia)

We've got daffodils blooming. Seems like I've been picturing this forever. And the first hyacinth came up today. I can just lay on the ground beside it and drift away to magical places in the aroma. Spring time is such a fascinating time of the year. My body is just screaming to move and play and rejoice in each day.

Randal heard a hawk outside the office window one day and when I went out with the camera I could see there was a pair flying around above the house and then across the road. It was a long shot, but I got a couple clear enough to enjoy. View Red-shouldered Hawk Couple and click on double right arrows to see a couple more.

I've taken a few photos this winter with all the birds visiting around our home. We even had a squirrel with a ponytail. View Critter Album. Please add your titles! We get such a giggle out of all your creative and funny thoughts on the wildlife poses.

Essential Oils and Cats

Essential oils are very potent substances and cats do not do as well with them as dogs do, so please be careful about this. Get more details on this website.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More Storage Space In Your Home

From Article by Lois Breneman

All of us have probably said how we need more storage space in our homes. First of all, getting rid of all those things we really don't need will cut way down on the needed storage space. Then how about investigating every available space in your home and putting it to good use if you are still in need of more storage space? In many cases it is available and just waiting to be found! Here are some clues as to where you can discover extra bonus space right in your own home!

Hang a clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the linen closet to hold bandaids, small tubes of medications, a thermometer, ball syringes, etc. Everything will be easy to see and locate quickly when needed.

Hang another clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the coat closet for sunglasses, gloves, scarves, fold up umbrellas, etc.

Hang more clear vinyl pocket organizers inside your children's closet doors, unless the doors are louvered. I'm sure you will agree that small things stored in these pockets are so much better than scattered all around their rooms! And everything will all be visible through the clear vinyl!

Read the entire article.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Kites Reduce Ships Fuel Needs

An oversize paraglider-shaped kite could help cut fuel usage for ocean-going vessels while reducing their emissions. German company, SkySails, is now offering a wind propulsion system based on large towing kites that can reduce a ship‘s fuel costs by 10-35% annually. Read Story

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Praying Mantis Egg Case

By Donna L. Watkins

View Enlarged Image
Praying Mantis Egg Case
View More Praying Mantis Photos
While we were trimming back the mums I discovered a praying mantis egg case. We had one on a holly right in front of the breakfast area and it was obvious that a bird got inside looking for food. 

So, I decided to take this one from the mum clippings and have placed it between the screen and window of our dining room. It's protected from predators and in the natural temperatures so it will only "hatch" when it's time.

I hope to get photos when the little ones are crawling out. I'm excited to provide natural bug protection in our garden and to be able to see the process of it.  

Can you distinguish the praying mantis in this photo from the leaves around it?  They really do a good camouflage job so that their prey will not notice them.  See photos of them mating and hiding amongst the garden plants in this article:  About The Praying Mantis.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Adding Another Pet To The Household

by Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Expert at Center Hill School

We are thinking about getting another cat, but we aren’t sure if our current cat will like the idea. We also have a dog that loves cats—sometimes too much! What’s the best way to introduce a new cat?

Introducing animals to new things, people, or other animals can be tricky whether you are dealing with a cat or a dog. The key is to make the new addition the coolest thing in the world. Be sure to only feed and pay attention to existing animals in the presence of the new addition. This will make the new addition an important part of the family whose presence is required to get the resources needed to exist. Treats should “rain from heaven” every time the new addition comes around. Imagine how much you would want someone to be in the room if every time they entered $100 bills came out of the sky!

The following are some steps to help introductions go more smoothly.

1. Set up a separate room for the new cat complete with a litter box, food, and water. If possible, a screen door on the room helps animals sniff each other safely, but it’s not necessary.

2. Allow the new cat to explore the separate area alone with the door closed.

3. Take the new cat out of the room and allow the current cat and dog to explore the room and get to know the new cat’s scent. During this time the new cat can explore the rest of the house.

4. Feed the animals together (the dog may need to be in a crate). Start at a distance, then decrease the distance over time as everyone becomes more comfortable with each other. Use plates instead of dishes so the cats can see while they are eating.

5. Have some short supervised time together - some hissing from the cats is to be expected at first but this will eventually pass. Redirect any inappropriate or rough play—especially from the dog.

6. Dogs should know the basic commands of sit, stay, and leave it. The dog may need to be kept on a leash in the beginning in order to prevent chasing. Once a dog finds out how much fun the chase is, it’s hard to stop this behavior.

7. Prevention is the key. Never leave the animals alone together in the beginning. Have one more cat box than number of cats around the house so everyone has their privacy.

8. Keep the dog out of the cat box areas.

9.Put water dishes in areas that a cat can drink and see all around. Otherwise a cat may stop drinking out of fear that another cat or dog will sneak up from behind.

10. Eventually the animals will be able to spend more time together without supervision. Some become best friends, while others learn to tolerate each other. Either way, time spent planning and training will help bring harmony to the household in no time when adding a new furry companion.

Ask Cheryl About Your Pet's Behavior Problem

Cheryl Falkenburry has traveled the world helping people make sense of mind-boggling animal behavior. Working with animal behaviorists in Tucson, Arizona and England, majoring in psychology, and becoming a certified parenting educator prepared Cheryl to teach both humans and animals. Cheryl recognized that the concepts of positive parenting and loving leadership worked whether her clients were parents of human children or furry ones and applies her positive parenting skills to her animal training sessions. She has helped thousands of people develop new and exciting relationships with the animals who share their lives. Get details on phone and email consultations at Center Hill School.

Burnout and Boundaries

by Donna L. Watkins

We're a bit of the way into a new year now and we can evaluate whether or not our lives are matching up to what we thought about at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. I find that end of years is a time when I do a lot of pondering about what my previous year looked like.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch Butterfly With Chrysalis
Monarch Newly BornWhat did I accomplish? Did I set my priorities correctly? Did I set boundaries on how I would use my time and finances? Did I enforce those boundaries on myself and others so that I could accomplish what I felt was my God-given assignment for that year?

If we don't put the important things in life first, they will never be included in our days run by "tyranny of the urgent." Do you ever complain about your busy schedule and how much there is to get done? Who made the schedule? Oh, I know! I've been there loading up my schedule because of all the things I "had to do" or my segment of the world would fall apart. I felt like my family required so much, but looking back I can take full credit for putting that pressure on myself. It all had to be done my way which, of course, was the "right" way. :-)

I remember somebody telling me that Martha Washington was dead for 200 years but Mount Vernon was still being cleaned and cared for. That visual image has stayed with me for many years.

Tony Campolo talks of a time when he was a child and had a close relationship with the guy who ran The Franklin Institute. He retained that friendship until the man died. He made it to his bedside after a stroke, telling him he came right from the airport because he had been speaking. The man replied, "You go all over the world to people, who 10 years from now won't remember your name, but you haven't time for those who really care about you."

Tony could've been offended, but he took those words to heart and changed his life. As always when we change our outlook on life, we attract others who have done the same. He had a friend who got a call from the White House asking him to consult with the President. His friend said no because he'd promised to be with his granddaughter. The nation survived and with this kind of grandfather, I'm sure that little girl learned a lot about doing what's truly important in life.

We are influenced by advertising and books that tell us we don't have any self-worth so we must spin ourselves trying to create it. Do you take time for what's important in life? Are you spending time with those who care about you? Maybe you don't believe anybody cares for you, so you run to and fro seeking acceptance and praise for what you accomplish. I can ask the question .... I've been there.

Most of my life was spent believing that it was what I got done that was all important ... and yet when I look back, I don't find that the ones I was performing for were even noticing. Oh yes, I got a few comments from "the crowd" about how much I got done and that my Super Woman cape was always without wrinkles.

If I had the choice to choose again, would I trade those hectic to-do-driven years for those few comments? Never! May I presume to guess that you won't either, so maybe you'd like to turn around before looking back is so far away.

Jesus never rushed about and he took plenty of time for rest and relaxation. He spent time with those most important to him and His mission on earth.

What is your mission? Jesus honored Mary who sat at his feet while Martha was caught up in the duties of the moment having to "do it all now." Do we get our timing and priorities mixed? I still struggle with it. I had too many years of doing it wrong. I now have to make sure my boundaries are secure.

We can resent the people who pressure us to do what they want, which feeds our silent anger and causes physical, emotional and spiritual problems. We are called to determine what is right in our own heart and to act on it. We need to take responsibility for our lives, learning to put first things first.

Don't expect everybody to understand, and don't do it with arrogance. If there are people who depend on you, work it out. Make a plan to bow out and work the plan. If you lose some friends, you'll know they had their own agenda. You are losing nothing and gaining all.

Don't let life slip by. Seek your heart on what you truly want your life to look like when you are 10 years down the road looking back. What do you want your children and grandchildren and spouse to remember? More important than that is this: What do you want to remember? Only you can make your life what you want it to be. I believe the reason some people age so much as they get older is the regrets they carry. We all have time to make it different. Each day is a gift.

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, March 3, 2007

Frogs and Frogwatch USA

I'm going to be attending an evening program next week on frogs. I plan to be part of this Frogwatch program since we have a small garden pond and a large pond across the street that I could "watch" at. I'm excited since I so enjoy seeing the American Toads mate and deposit eggs in our pond last year. Click double arrows to the right to see the entire process along with the eggs.

Get ready for spring breeding at your nearby pond or wetland area. This frog and toad monitoring program gives you the opportunity to help scientists conserve amphibians. With as little as 20 minutes a week you can collect essential information to protect frogs and toads.

This long-term amphibian study, managed by the National Wildlife Federation in partnership with the United States Geological Survey, will increase awareness of amphibian decline and will give you the opportunity to be directly involved in gathering information that can ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to help stop the decline of these important species. Get all the details.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Negative Heartworms After Herbal Program

Robin Sockness, who is a dear friend of mine, has been working with people for many years and has helped over a thousand pets with a natural alternative to heartworm programs and prevention. She shared this story with me and I wanted to share it with you. She is my hero working with these heartworm dogs and other pet problems. She stays so up-to-date on stuff, she's an inspiration to me.

Cassie Tests Negative For Heartworms"Cassie was diagnosed with a moderate case of heartworms during the Summer of 2006. She was 3-years old at the time and although she acted like a playful puppy she would appear to get short of breath after her walks. The vet wanted to get her on the conventional treatment right away, but agreed she wasn't the perfect candidate for this treatment as it would obviously be hard to keep her calm and confined so she suggested possibly keeping her on Benadryl during the program. This horrified me and I came home and started searching for an alternative solution. Thankfully I came across Bandit's website and immediately ordered Bandit's program, which she started July 23, 2006.

Cassie was 17-lbs at the time and I kept her to the program that Bandit had been on and changed her to a healthy diet. I also took her off the monthly Heartguard, however, when my husband heard of this he wanted to get her back on the Heartgard and insisted we take her to the vet to see if the heartworms had increased during the time she had been off the Heartguard. We went to the vet in November for the heartworm bloodtest and while waiting for the results I told the vet about the herbal formula I was using, she appeared to have heard about it, but quickly said it doesn't work. However, a moment later when she walked back in with the results, she announced that the test showed only a very slight positive! She told me to continue what I was doing, but to also put her back on the monthly Heartgard, which my husband insisted on doing.

We took Cassie back to the vet yesterday (January, 2007) for her yearly physical. The vet checked her out and then went on to another patient. Her assistant finally came in and said the vet was done and that I could leave, but I said I was still waiting on the result of the heartworm test, to which she said "Oh, it's negative, we would have come in and told you right away if it had been positive." I reiterated that Cassie had been diagnosed with heartworms and was she sure about the results. She confirmed she was. I couldn't believe that they were so nonchalant about the whole thing .. I wanted to throw a party and call everyone! I'm thinking about taking in another rescue dog that needs heartworm treatment and putting him/her on the program right away. Thanks, Robin, for your wonderful website!" Lorraine

Read more about
natural heartworm programs or read more success stories that Robin has shared with us.

Pet Food Recall

Menu Foods, Inc. has identified potentially contaminated products. Consumers who have any of these products should immediately stop feeding them to their pets.

Dogs or cats who have consumed the suspect food and show signs of kidney failure (loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should consult with their veterinarian. All Stop & Shop Supermarkets and Giant Food stores have removed the products from their shelves. Customers can return for full refund. Any additional questions call 1-866-895-2708. The link to their site has been too busy to even load, but here it is:

These recalls are happening much too frequently and act as an alert to pet owners to know more about the brands they choose for their pets. Pet food manufactured by large food industries that make use of the feathers, bones, blood and scraps that can't be approved for human consumption is not what you want to be feeding your pet. These ingredients do not support life.

We've had friends who have lost their pets with contaminated foods and it's a heartbreaker because it can be prevented. Since the early 80's we've used natural food brands that we knew were small family-run companies. Now we realize how important this is because ingredient sources can create many problems and dangers.

Life's Abundance is the brand we use and it has ever had a recall. You need to know more about pet foods for the safety and quality life of your pet. Healthy pet foods pay for themselves in saved dollars at the vet and in overall health for the animal. View a video about what's in pet foods.

Southern California Memories

It's only been a couple of weeks since we returned from California, but the memories of the flowers, green trees and warm weather are fading. I have to relive them in our photo albums of the trip (links below).

This rose was nearby the hotel we stayed at on our last day. I stopped to bury my nose in it with my eyes closed, thinking of my rose-loving friend, Louise Allred, back in Alabama. She's also waiting for the blooms of summer she enjoys so well.

It's amazing that in such a short period of time, the events of each day tug at my flower memories like they are pulling a petal off with each task that makes demands for my attention. "Does she do me?" "Does she rest?" I love to do and I never knew the concept of rest during the day, but I know that my body and soul and spirit need rest and time to nourish and retrain my thoughts.

What do I believe are the necessities and priorities of life? As I've often said, it amazes me how many times Jesus said, "Only believe." Our beliefs control so much of what we think ... but we can change what we believe by what we choose to think about. That's the priority time I have to give myself each day .... mind renewal. Sometimes it feels silly and such a waste of time ... but oh! how much better life is when you do the work required to change those thoughts and messages that threaten to destroy our minds and flesh.

Go back to the flowers and they'll tell you their secrets :-)

Photo gallery albums from Southern California trip:

Centennial Heritage Museum Gardens - Santa Ana, CA

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve - Murrieta, CA

Old Town Temecula, CA

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Seaport Village - San Diego, CA

Balboa Park - San Diego, CA

Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA

Environmental Nature Center - Newport Beach, CA

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, CA

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, CA

Share This Post