Sunday, May 31, 2009

Early Risers Not As Alert As Night Owls

Early birds may be chipper in the morning, but they mentally wear out faster, a new brain-scan study reveals. Scientists monitored the brain activity of self-described early birds and night owls in a sleep lab.

The team, led by Christina Schmidt of the University of Li├Ęge in Belgium, also took hourly saliva samples to measure the sleepers' levels of melatonin, a hormone thought to help naturally regulate sleep cycles in mammals.

Both night owls and early birds were allowed to stay on their preferred sleep schedules, but each group was awake for the same number of hours each day. Read the entire article.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Guide to Bird Study

Cornell University has a great website for educator's to get resource to learn and teach about birds. But! You don't need to be an educator to benefit from the informaiton. There are lots of fun activity ideas and support materials to learn about birds and conduct inquiry-based research. What a great way to learn more about birds ... after all, we're all children at heart and we are never too old to learn. Visit now.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Let It Go

by Donna L. Watkins

So many times we get stuck in seasons of our lives. In the times of trouble we tend to rehearse the bad times, as if to justify that it's what life is all about, as if we should get used to trials and tribulations. We are not without them and never will be, but God promises us good times and more than that peace and joy amidst even the trials and tribulations.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Trillium - Ivy Creek Preserve, Charlottesville, VA
God wants to renew and refresh us through our troubles if we will allow Him to. It's hard to give thanks when we're dealing with problems, but we are commanded to do so.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

It only says to give thanks, not to feel thankful. It's an outward statement that we trust God to take care of our lives and even in the worst of times, we thank Him for all that is happening in our lives because inwardly we know that He will turn it to good when we love him as Romans 8:28 promises.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we are not designed to live in trouble every day of our life. Do you know people who seem to attract problems? They actually seem to always be in the midst of some crisis. Some people are actually addicted to the lifestyle of turmoil, others may just believe it's their lot in life. You can tell those from the way they talk about life.

Statements like:

If there's something going around, I'll catch it. I've always had health problems.
I hate going to work. It's the most boring job I've ever had.
I have a rotten boss and my coworkers are all messed up. Work is a nightmare.
You can't trust anyone these days. They're all out for themselves.
Things never work out the way I want them to.

We are often our own worst enemy. We can't base today and tomorrow on the past, so the first thing we need to do is let go of the past. Stop dragging the "there and then" into the "here and now." Let go of what God has forgiven and forgotten about from your past. You can't do anything to change it and you only sin more by burdening today with past forgiven sins. Life will turn into a beautiful garden.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV): "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Let go of what others have done to you. Remember Joseph's example of his brothers selling him into slavery and even enduring prison for something he did not do, yet he said that God meant it all for good and he left it behind. He didn't churn away at bitterness. He looked for the good in all things and came out victorious and in a high position of influence and honor.

Let go of what you have done to others. Consider all that Saul had done to persecute the Christians. He was able to put it behind him and look ahead. Paul said in Philippians 3:13b-14, "but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Jesus died for our sins and if we don't leave them behind we make that sacrifice worthless in our lives daily.

Let go of what you failed to do. Missed opportunities are going to happen, but lingering on them causes you to continually miss them as your life passes by. The disappointment of what you despair over must be put to rest so you can reach out and take today and tomorrow's opportunities.

Don't waste your future by dwelling in the past. No one can destroy you without your permission and cooperation. It's not what they do to you that determines your outcome ... it's what YOU do with it.

Related Articles:
Getting Out Of The Negative Loops
Awful Circumstances
Rosy or Black

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Appetite Control in Weight Loss

Though there has not been much research in the United States on aromatherapy, more research has been done in Europe indicating that the use of scent can affect physical and psychological changes in humans.

One study done in the United States found that inhalation of certain aromas appeared to be able to induce sustained weight loss over a six-month period. The research was published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery (1995).

The study involved over 3,000 subjects and Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., neurologist and director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois conducted it. Dr. Hirsch wanted to see if smelling pleasant food aromas would help reduce appetite and food cravings in people, thereby helping them lose weight by reducing their food intake.

Subjects were given plastic nasal inhalers scented with banana, green apple and peppermint. They sniffed the inhalers before, during and between meals. They recorded how often they sniffed. It was found that those who sniffed more frequently lost weight faster than those who did not.

Dr. Hirsch explained that it worked because "Odors have a direct effect on the satiety center in the brain, which is the area that tells your body when you've had enough to eat." Continual exposure to pleasant food aromas indicates to the brain that the body is satisfied and does not need to eat. It was shown in the study that there was successful weight loss.

Maybe that's why Grapefruit Essential Oil has helped with weight loss? I have used Peppermint Essential Oil while driving to stay awake and it also takes my ravenous driving appetite away. A study led by Dr. Mark Norrish at Coventry University in the UK, and published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology in 2004, found that peppermint oil was effective in reducing day-time sleepiness.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Natural Fertilizer

Okay, not totally free. You'll need the initial investment in worms but thereafter you've got a manufacturing plant of worms and fertilizer.

From Creation Moments.

The lowly earthworm is one of the most under-appreciated little creatures on Earth. People probably don't appreciate the earthworm because it's not very pretty. Biology textbooks say that the earthworms were among the first simple land creatures to evolve. Well, clearly there hasn't been much evolution since, and they are not that simple. The earthworm has a well-developed nervous system, a brain and ten hearts!

Earthworms tunnel through the soil by literally eating the soil itself. As the worm draws nutrition from organic matter in the soil, its digestive system processes these chemicals to produce excellent natural fertilizers.

In one recent test, soil scientists compared earthworms and the best fertilizers you can buy. The earthworms easily won the contest. The ground they fertilized had five times more nitrogen, twice as much calcium, two-and-a-half times more magnesium, and seven times more phosphorus than the best that modern science could produce.

Since earthworms like lots of organic material in the soil, you can encourage earthworms in your garden by digging lawn clippings and most types of tree leaves into your soil this fall rather than throwing them away. One caution, however. Some leaves like red oak are acid and best left out of the soil.

So, while earthworms are not pretty, our Creator has provided them to enrich the soil and help to feed us all. Visit Creation Moments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Free Click Contributes Help

You can make a difference in many areas of life and the world by clicking on the links below. It's free to you, but every time you click, an advertiser contributes to these programs. You can sign up for an email reminder. You get to choose which days you want the email to arrive. Choose at least one of these great efforts and be blessed from clicking regularly.

Help to Provide Food, Medical Attention and Education to a Child in Need

Protect Rainforests, Prairie or Wetlands Habitats That Protect Animal
Chimps and Other Primates
Jane Goodall Institute
Provide Food to Pet Animal Shelters
Save The Ocean
Dolphins, Whales, Otters, Turtles and More
Big Cats
Tigers, Jaguars, Snow Leopards

Different Perspective on Heart Health

by Steven H. Horne, RH (AHG)

When someone says “heart,” does it conjure up the image of a pump? Most likely not. While Western science has told us that the organ beating inside our chests is just a pump, our cultural use of the word heart suggests the “heart” is much more. For instance:

* We talk about “giving our heart” to someone when we fall in love.
* We feel our “heart breaking” when relationships end.
* We say “take heart” to encourage someone.
* We “take things to heart” when we allow them to affect us emotionally.
* We “have a heart” when we exhibit compassion for others.
* We “harden our heart” when we emotionally lose good feelings for someone because of hurt and betrayal.
* We refer to love and relationships as “matters of the heart.”

All of these examples show that subjectively, we experience our heart as much more than a mechanical pump for blood. The heart is deeply connected with feelings and relationships with others. However, when the heart is diseased, most of us tend to completely ignore this deep emotional experience of the heart and act as if our feelings have little or nothing to do with the health of our heart.

I believe that when it comes to treating heart problems, addressing these emotional and relationship issues is just as important as working on the heart nutritionally. I have often told people that “the heart knows things the brain does not.” I know this because 22 years ago I started working with emotional healing. I’ve had a lot of success working with clients on both the emotional and physical levels at the same time, but have lacked the objective language to explain some of what my heart understands.

Recently, however, I came across a book called The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature by Stephen Harrod Buhner. This remarkable book provided me with the understanding I needed to vocalize the truths my own heart had been teaching me. The fact is, science has confirmed our heart is much more than a pump. Let me share what I’ve learned. Read the entire article.

I've personally been using herbs for the heart for many years avoiding any prescription drugs. My favorite is Hawthorn Berries. I love the taste of the glycerin extract. Any of the products mention in this very enlightening and informational article can be found at The Herbs Place.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Don't Kill This Bug!

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Larvae Stage of Ladybug

A couple of years ago I discovered these bugs all over some aphids on the Honey Locust tree. As usual I had to know what they were to know if they were good bugs or bad. I am always hoping for more good bugs in our habitat.

I found out they were the larvae stage of the ladybug. This year I am seeing them everywhere and particularly on the plants that have aphids.

The larvae stage of the ladybug actually eats more than the adult beetle. We've left the aphids alone on a variety of bushes (spireas) and trees and perennials (black-eyed). Seems they attract more ladybugs so it all works out. The plants don't look affected at all.

This year I took another picture that isn't so close-up so you can get an idea of the size (in comparison to my thumb nail) and what they look like.

Most folks would think it's "just a bug" and not know it's a good thing to have around. Far too many would run for the chemicals and then talk about ordering ladybugs for their garden.

The orange pattern can vary a bit on the back and they're pretty small but very distinctive since they're different than anything else I've seen.

Be sure to share this information with other gardening friends, especially those who love birds or have pets and children in the yard. There's far too much research now on the damaging effects of these products applied much too profusely to our homes and yards.

We all need to learn more about the beneficial things we can do to coexist with the natural world around us. Thanks for helping me get the word out to others. Get more ladybug information.


by Donna L. Watkins

The portion of the Lord's Prayer which says, "Give us this day our daily bread," isn't generally a desperate plea since food has been something people will go into great debt for. Whether it's grocery store bills, eating and drinking beverages out, or bingeing on addictive foods, setting a budget for food and staying within the boundaries is not common.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Passionflower Butterfly - La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Not until we are forced into it .... such as a bad economy, or a loss of job, or an increase in medical expenses that necessitates cutting back on spending elsewhere. And as a side note, often those medical expenses relate to food and our eating habits.

Ten and a half years ago I knew I had to get chocolate out of my life. I had given up sugar in all other forms, but chocolate was controlling me and it was dishonoring God. I would seek chocolate for comfort, not His loving arms. Comfort foods provide little. Only brief moments of pleasure followed by guilt which floods our soul when we choose something other than God.

Proverbs 23:2
"And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite."

We generally choose to joke about food addictions, not using those words of course, but talking about having finished off the whole pan of brownies in a day, while giggling with girls about it, as each of us shares their own food addiction story with laughter.

We don't laugh about tobacco and drug addictions or alcoholism and although we might say that food doesn't cause the same problems as drugs and alcohol, if we look closer we will see the lie in that thought. How do you tell if you're addicted to some food? If you can't take a small bite of something, but consume a large portion of something that would not be considered nutritious or an appropriately sized portion of food .... you're out of control. I didn't like that feeling because after bingeing I not only felt sick physically, but my soul was sick with guilt. The waste of money and health left my soul barren, not comforted, and the mood swings that come with food addiction affect the entire family, your job performance, and your relationships with others.

It's like being an alcoholic or like the Lay's potato chips commercial .... "bet you can't eat just one." I lost the bet every time with chocolate - I had no interest in potato chips. I quit chocolate many times for weeks and months and my pride, based on the strength of willpower, would get the best of me. I would tell myself that I could just have one piece now that I had withdrawn from the addiction. They don't tell you that in AA do they?

I had gone six months in my own strength without eating chocolate, although the longing never left, so at a convention in September of 1998, when a tiered tray of chocolate goodies was placed on our table after dinner, I deceived myself again into thinking I could have just one. I did have just one that night ... but the addiction raged onward thereafter and my soul loathed being imprisoned by food.

In November 1998 I acknowledged that I could not fight this battle with my will. I believe step one in AA is to acknowledge that we are powerless. In essence that is what I did. God doesn't want our thoughts dominated by food. He is the Provider of our daily bread and Jesus told us we are not to even think about food.

Matthew 6:25
"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?"

Life is more than food, but to those addicted to it, it's an all-day issue of thoughts and desires. In prayer I asked God to handle this. I had run out of my own ideas and admitted human defeat. The only way I could leave this behind was for Him to do it within me, as He's done for people addicted to tobacco, drugs and alcohol. I know people who have walked away from these things victorious, so I wanted the same blessing.

I asked God to take away the desire for the chocolate and my commitment was that I would say NO to chocolate forever more. I knew even if God healed my mind about this that instant, there would still be a physical withdrawal period. Yes, He could heal that also, but I knew that I needed to go through this period in faith and as seed for my commitment to produce His harvest of blessing in removing the desire. It would provide the mental image of victory through the process. Maybe my pride required that somehow I still be involved in the process. God knows what will work and that's what I felt led to do.

I planted a seed of faith in my commitment, knowing as farmers did before irrigation that God would have to water and provide sun for a harvest. I don't remember how long the physical process was but I remember having to say NO for a week or two, each time was like watering the seed, and the sun was provided by the joy I experienced from having said NO, knowing that God was removing the desire inch by inch as that seed took root and grew. Jesus said the mustard seed is tiny but it produces a plant large enough for birds to nest in (Matthew 13:31-32). Jesus also talked about the results of faith the size of a mustard seed, and I felt that was just about as much faith as I had in the matter.

Matthew 17:20
"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

You would think that I would've written down the exact date, but that's evidence that my faith was small. When my mustard seed blossomed into a huge plant that consumed my desire and craving for chocolate I only knew that it was early November when I'd made the commitment. It actually took my brain awhile to catchup on the fact that I didn't want chocolate.

It was an odd thing to stand looking in a bakery case or at a box of thin mints without any longing or emotional link. It was like I was numb in that area of the brain that surely held zillions of memories of the delights of chocolate. Those delights were not real. They were only a delusion of comfort and now they were totally erased and I was free.

It puzzled me and astounded me and I was fascinated with the how of it happening, but God's ways are not our ways, so I've never been able to figure it out other than the loving gifts God gives us of mercy and grace. He will meet us more than halfway when our heart longs to worship, honor, adore and depend on Him instead of our earthly idols.

Related Article: Escaping Temptation

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Never Quit

Find what you love to do, begin doing it, and never retire. That's what this 88-year old woman did and she's still going strong. Let it inspire you to get out of the mundane and into the miraculous flow of purpose and passion. It'll keep you strong and healthy. View the You Tube video.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mourning Doves

by Donna L. Watkins

It's April here in Central Virginia and our mourning doves are cooing, which means nesting season has begun. The cooing claims territory and begins the process of raising more doves.

© 2007 Donna L. Watkins - Young Mourning Dove Bathing
Mourning doves are in the same family as pigeons but are slimmer with a soft grayish-brown body with a gray patch on the head. The black dots on the wings and single black spot below the eye are identifying marks. When they take off in a loud clapping of wings flight, you can also see the white-edged tail that is very conspicuous.

The nests are built of twigs, weeds, grass and pine needles at a height of 5-25 feet. Some build in the corner of a porch. The ones I've seen you can see through the bottom and they make me very nervous since eggs have been known to drop out if the mama dove flies off suddenly from being startled. For this reason dove nests are best left alone or viewed with binoculars from a distance. Abandonment of the nest with eggs or nestlings is common with doves if they sense any threat from human or animal.

Generally two eggs are laid and incubated for two weeks. The young will be fed for about another two weeks before fledging. The babies are fed what's called 'pigeon milk' although it's not a milk. It produced by the glands in the crop of the parent bird. The nestling sticks its head inside the wide open mouth to feed on this food.Since they begin early in Spring, they will raise 2-3 broods and reuse the same nest for all of them.

You can provide a safer and more sturdy nesting area by placing a nesting shelf in a tree or under the eaves of your house, but be sure to place it where they will not have to deal with any human or animal traffic flow nearby.

If you'd like to supply food, preferences include cracked corn, proso millet, sunflower seeds and even chopped peanuts. We enjoy seeing the doves in our yard. They mate for life and seeing them wander about gathering a meal of seeds from the ground is a delight. They seem to so enjoy each other and the cooing is like a romantic lullaby to my ears.

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Soy For Canine Cancer

Researchers at North Carolina State University are looking to soy as a way to make traditional canine cancer therapy more effective, less stressful for the dog and less costly for the owners.

Dr. Steven Suter, assistant professor of oncology, and NC State colleagues studied genistein - a molecule found in soy that has been shown to be toxic to a wide variety of cancer cells in humans - to determine whether it would also inhibit the growth of canine lymphoma cells. Read the entire article.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Water Control and Monitoring For Yard and Garden

Over-watering of lawns and gardens is usually one of the greatest sources of water waste. There are many reasons why: some people apply too much water, water at the wrong times thereby increasing evaporation, or don’t adjust their sprinklers and end up watering the street / driveway instead.

One of the best ways to control irrigation water use is to use “smart” irrigation controllers. They not only save you money, but they’ll save an incredible amount of hassle by taking the guesswork out of setting your irrigation schedule correctly. In many water-starved parts of the country your local water agency might offer rebates on these systems, sometimes nearly paying for the entire controller!

Smart controllers come in a couple of flavors: controllers that monitor the conditions in your yard (soil moisture, etc) and set irrigation accordingly, and controllers that base your irrigation schedule on weather data received from satellite, radio or internet feeds.

Get the run-down on expected drought conditions in your area and get the information on some of the best options available right now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Acne Works

There are around 17 million people in America who woke up this morning, shuffled into the bathroom, looked at themselves in the mirror and yelled, "Aw, come on!" Then, many of them started scrubbing, washing, peeling and picking at their faces in their attempts to rid themselves of their acne.

Most of these acne sufferers are teenagers and twentysomethings. However, the good times don't always end with the passing of adolescence -- adults get acne, too. In this cruel world, even babies get it. At some point in our lives, most of us will experience the unpleasantness of acne.

­Acne can take many forms, which we'll discuss in this article: whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and even large, cystlike masses. It's caused essentially by the blocking of one of the hair follicles in your skin. As infection deepens and pressure grows behind this clog, a pus-filled bump forms on top of your skin -- the dreaded pimple. In a moment, we'll take a more in-depth look at how your skin functions when things are running smoothly (and not-so-smoothly). Read the entire article.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Milkweed Bugs

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2005 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch Emerged From Chrysalis on Blade of Grass

After we began getting Monarch caterpillars on our milkweed we were so excited. Especially the morning I walked down to the mailbox to find to find a new Monarch out of its chrysalis warming up its wings. I was hooked!

The next year I began seeing bugs all over the milkweed plants and got very concerned about whether they would be eating the leaves that the Monarch caterpillars needed.

Monarchs only eat plants of the milkweed family, and we only had about 8 plants at the time so I was very protective of their food source.

After searching my bug books I found out that the bugs were called Milkweed Bugs and that they had few predators because their bodies contain bad tasting compounds found in the sap of milkweed plants. Milkweed Bugs use their bright colors to advertise their bad taste. Inexperienced birds that take a taste of their first milkweed bug are unlikely get another.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Milkweed Bugs Showing Adults and Another Growth Stage

These bugs gather in groups on the milkweed plant until they become adults. The nymphs (immature bugs) look like adults except that they aren't as big and don't have full wings. Their color pattern is different also. They appear bright red, rather than the mix of red and black.

They pass through five (5) molts until they become adults. After the eggs are laid, it takes a week for them to hatch and then another month for them to become adults if the temperatures are warm. Adults are about 5/8 inch long.

Mating is easily observed, as the two bugs attach end to end for an extended time. It is possible to distinguish female and male adults by body markings and males tend to be smaller than the females. LawrenceHallOf gives this information to tell male from female:

The tip of the abdomen is black, followed by a solid orange segment (with tiny black dots at the edges). If the next two segments following the orange band have solid black bands, the bug is a male. However, if the segment following the orange band is orange in the middle, making it look like it has two large black spots on the sides, followed by a segment with a solid black band, the bug is female.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch Caterpillar Eating Milkweed Leaf

Our milkweed plants produce flowers in the summer and then produce a large seed pod (about 1.5 inches wide by 4 inches long). The Milkweed Bugs pierce the seed pod to feed on the seeds. They do no other damage and do not bother the caterpillars which feed on the leaves.

However, if you want your milkweed plants to spread by seed, they can be considered a problem. Our plants are spreading by root which they do a better job of than by seed since you generally don't even get great results by putting milkweed seeds in the ground. It's best to plant them in small pots and transplant after they're on their way.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wilderness or The Promised Land

by Donna L. Watkins

In this bad economy we are experiencing, there is a tendency to be anxious and fearful of having enough. We think back on Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount that God will feed us, but we are so used to trusting in ourselves for groceries, and also eating more food than we actually need.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Buff-rumped Warbler - La Selva Biological Station - Costa Rica

Psalm 104:10-12
"You make springs to gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches."

Psalm 104:21 and 27
"The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God .. These all look to you to give them their food in due season."

God provides for His Creation. In an era when we are destroying the rainforest to fulfill the demand for America's fast food burgers, it is comforting to know that the wild animals that survive are being cared for by God, while most of us have no thought of stewardship of the earth. Meat was not in the daily diet in Bible times except for the houses of kings. The word meat was used to refer to food in general.

Genesis 1:29
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

Bad times can produce good things in our lives. Take an assessment of your grocery budget and other expenses to use the tough times to build more discipline and self-control into your character. Those traits will serve you well in many areas of life. There are resources online for budgeting to know what percentage of your income should be spent on food, housing, autos, etc.

Matthew 6:26
"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?"

Jesus emphasized in many ways that we are not to worry about our daily provision, but sometimes our craving for things and food misuse those provisions and then we believe that God doesn't provide. It's not a good testimony for our own thoughts, nor is it a testimony for unbelievers to see God providing for those who trust in Him.

Schedule a time to discuss this with yourself or your spouse. Pray and seek the Lord for His direction. We can be an example of God's provision during good and bad times. Israel could've been a picture of God's provision, but they only grumbled wanting more no matter what miracles God showed them. That generation had to die in the desert because of their rebellion.

If you feel like you're dying in the desert, maybe it's time to reevaluate your lifestyle and desires. You have the Promised Land before you. Will you walk towards it or remain in the wilderness of being controlled by your feelings?

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bad Weather Linked to Headaches

As if there weren't already enough reasons to curse fickle weather: a new study confirms it can trigger headaches.

For the 32 millions Americans who suffer from migraines, this may not come as a surprise. Weather-related headaches are a common complaint, and several smaller studies have hinted that variables like temperature and barometric pressure may play a role in causing painful outbreaks.

Now a survey of 7,054 patients admitted to emergency rooms in the Boston, Mass. area has confirmed the suspicion. For every 5 degree Centigrade (9 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature, both migraine and non-migraine headache risk went up 7.5 percent over the next 24 hours.

For every 5 millimeters (.20 inches) of mercury drop in pressure, there was also a 6 percent increase in headache risk, though the effect showed up two to three days later. Drops in pressure typically happen as stormy weather moves in. Read the entire article.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fast Restoration of Rainforests

Rainforest clearcutting is devastating. The majority of the time, it opens up the area to such extensive soil erosion that even the tenacious (native) plants of the rainforests can't easily regrow. So how do you get a clearcut area to regenerate? Willie Smits has it figured out.

He's created a way to regrow a forest in Borneo that not only helped save local orangutans, but also provided a map for people who want to make similar efforts in other clearcut areas. View Willie Smits video.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Plant Asters and Daisies To Fight Bagworms

The bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) is a common pest of many coniferous and deciduous trees in the eastern U.S. This moth’s larvae spin unsightly baglike shelters in tree canopies and can cause serious damage through defoliation.

Typical control methods include mechanical removal of the bagworm shelters (when feasible) and the application of pesticides. However, the bagworm has a number of natural enemies — in particular, parasitoid insects, such as ichneumonid wasps — and research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has shown that bagworm control by these insects can be enhanced by planting certain flowering plants near trees and shrubs that are susceptible to bagworm infestations.

The flowering plants used in the UIUC research were all members of the Asteraceae, or aster family, which includes many species with daisylike blossoms known to attract parasitoids. Among them were a shasta daisy cultivar (Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Alaska’), a cultivar of the Newfoundland aster (Aster novi-belgii ‘Professor Anton Kippenburg’), and the treasure flower (Gazania rigens), a South African native.

The bagworm host plant was an arborvitae cultivar (Thuja occidentalis ‘Woodwardii’). In one trial, surrounding host plants with flowers led to a 70 percent increase in the parasitism of bagworms. In another trial, attacks on bagworms by parasitoid insects increased by a factor of three when host plants were surrounded by a high density of daisy flowers. Many plants in the Asteraceae are native to North America.

Source: J.A. Ellis et al., “Conservation Biological Control in Urban Landscapes: Manipulating Parasitoids of Bagworm (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) with Flowering Forbs,” Biological Control 34(1), July 2005, 99–107 (Elsevier Science, 6277 Sea Harbor Dr., Orlando, FL 32887).

Reprinted courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Another Resource: Attracting Beneficial Insects

Friday, May 15, 2009

Heart Health

A healthy cardiovascular system is essential for maintaining well-being and vitality. However, the health of the cardiovascular system is often undermined by risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes. All of these contribute to coronary heart disease (CHD).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. Almost 700,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year. That is about 29% of all U.S. deaths.1

Fortunately, the threat of heart disease can be reduced or prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices that include daily exercise, not smoking, prudent eating, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing alcohol consumption.

Additionally, certain nutritional products can aid in supporting optimal cardiovascular system health. Coenzyme Q10, Cardio Assurance, Blood Pressurex and Super Omega-3 EPA provide healthful benefits.

Coenzyme Q-10 (Co-Q10) is a vitamin-like compound considered by some to be a “miracle nutrient.” It is present in virtually all cells, and is found in especially high concentrations in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas.2 Many studies suggest that Co-Q10 supports already-normal-range blood pressure levels. It also promotes a healthy heart muscle and plays a key role in energy production within cells. As an antioxidant, Co-Q10 scavenges free radicals, protects cardiac cells and promotes the regeneration of vitamin E, another heart-healthy antioxidant.

Levels of Co-Q10 decrease with age, which is why it is important to supplement the diet. Nature's Sunshine offers several nutritional supplements to help meet your daily Co-Q10 needs: Co-Q10 (30 mg), Co-Q10 Plus, and Co-Q10 75 mg softgels.

Nature's Sunshine's Cardio Assurance is formulated to support optimal heart function and cardiovascular system health. Hawthorn berries, resveratrol and vitamin K2 are the key ingredients.

Hawthorn berries contain flavonoids with potent antioxidant and heart protecting effects. Hawthorn flavonoids help keep blood vessels clear, relax and dilate blood vessels, and increase blood flow in the heart arteries.4-6

Studies indicate that resveratrol has promising heart-health benefits and may be the answer to the French Paradox. (Despite their high intake of fat, the French have a low incidence of heart issues.) Resveratrol may help inhibit platelet aggregation and promotes vasorelaxation.7-8

Vitamin K2 supports circulation already within a normal range by helping to keep the arteries clear. This important nutrient has emerged as a key factor in regulating calcium in the body. Adequate vitamin K2 consumption helps keep calcium out of the arteries and in the bones where it belongs.

Many supplements for hypertension on the market target only one or two underlying causes. Blood Pressurex targets many underlying causes to provide maximum support. The ingredients in Blood Pressurex help the body maintain blood pressure levels within a normal range by reducing oxidative stress, relaxing and strengthening blood vessels, and promoting blood flow.10-13

Super Omega-3 EPA softgels contain a blend of fish oils high in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that daily consumption of 1 gram of fish oils from fish or fish oil supplements seems to decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke and the progression of atherosclerosis.14-15

According to one analysis, consuming dietary fish oil or taking fish oil supplements is associated with a 23% reduction in overall mortality and a 32% reduction in death from cardiovascular causes in people with or without cardiovascular disease.16 However, most American diets lack omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, the typical American consumes a disproportionate amount of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio typically ranges from 10:1 to 25:1 (omega-6 to omega-3); a preferable ratio is closer to 1:1. Super Omega-3 EPA softgels offer a convenient way to meet your daily omega-3 fish oil needs.

Related Articles:
Scientific Research - Omega 3's
Lowering Cholesterol With Fish Oil and Red Yeast Rice

1. Available at:
2. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 8th ed. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2006:pg 351.
3. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 8th ed. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2006:pg 350.
4. Al Makdessi S Sweidan H Mullner S Jacob R. Myocardial protection by pretreatment with Crataegus oxyacantha: an assessment by means of the release of lactate dehydrogenase by the ischemic and reperfused Langendorff heart. In: Arzneimittelforschung. 1996 Jan 46(1):25-7.
5. Chen ZY; Zhang ZS; Kwan KY; Zhu M; Ho WK; Huang Y. Endothelium-dependent relaxation induced by hawthorn extract in rat mesenteric artery. Life Sci. 1998 63(22):1983-91.
6. Schussler M Holzl J Fricke U. Myocardial effects of flavonoids from Crataegus species. In: Arzneimittelforschung. 1995 Aug 45(8):842-5.
7. Bertelli, A. A., Giovannini, L., Giannessi, D., Migliori, M., Bernini, W., Fregoni, M., and Bertelli, A. Antiplatelet activity of synthetic and natural resveratrol in red wine. Int J Tissue React. 1995;17(1):1-3.
8. Naderali, E. K., Smith, S. L., Doyle, P. J., and Williams, G. The mechanism of resveratrol-induced vasorelaxation differs in the mesenteric resistance arteries of lean and obese rats. Clin Sci (Lond) 2001;100(1):55-60.
9. Available at:
10. Visioli, E; Galli, C. "Oleuropein Protects Low Density Lipoprotein from Oxidation." Life Sci. 1994; 55(24):19651971.
11. Shafiq, J; Suzuki, S.; Itoh, T and Kuriyama, H. Mechanisms of vasodilation induced by NKH477, a water-soluble forskolin derivative, in smooth muscle of the porcine coronary artery. Circulation Research, Vol 71, 70-81.
12. Mafffei Facino, R., Carini, M., Aldini, G., Bombardelli, E., Morazzoni, P., and Morelli, R. 1994. Free radicals scavenging action and anti-enzyme activities of procyanidines from Vitis vinifera, A mechanism for their capillary protective action. Arzneim-Forsch./ Drug Res. 44:592-601.
13. Lambert, TL ; Dev, V. ;Rechavia, E; Forrester, JS ; Litvack, F.; and Eigler, NL . Localized arterial wall drug delivery from a polymer-coated removable metallic stent. Kinetics, distribution, and bioactivity of forskolin. Circulation 1994 90: 1003-1011.
14. Burr ML, Fehily AM, Gilbert JF, et al. Effects of changes in fat, fish, and fiber intakes on death and myocardial reinfarction: diet and reinfarction trial (DART). Lancet 1989;2:757-61.
15. Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, Meier G. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary heart disease: a metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.
16. Yzebe D, Lievre M. Fish oils in the care of coronary heart disease patients: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Fundam Clin Pharmacol 2004;18:581-92.

This Material Was Created By Larisa Wright
Health Sciences Department
Nature's Sunshine Products

Gardening with Buttercups

We first discovered our buttercups a few years ago down by the mailbox in the roadway easement. After they bloomed we moved them into a flower bed. They've spread a bit there and I've enjoyed them so much I asked Randal to dig up all that were down along the road.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Buttercups and Candytuft
We had 10 plants we moved along both sides of the stepping stone path that leads out from our front door. They're early bloomers (April here in Central Virginia) and they bloom for several months. When they're done the plant dries up, the roots remain and other plants around it take their turn with blooms.

Buttercup is beneficial in many ways in the garden. They will provide butterfly nectar, as will dandelions, the latter being used by species such as the painted lady and brimstone.

Birds readily eat the leaves and seeds of the buttercup. The flowers are also visited by honey bees, moths, bugs, and beetles for pollen or nectar. Buttercups host microorganisms and nematodes. Beneficial nematodes offer a form of organic insect control that affects over 250 different kinds of pest insects.

Buttercups are considered invasive in some areas, so consider where you put it since it is not generally welcome in lawns, but if you're tired of the "keeping the lawn looking good" maintenance schedule, convert your lawn into flowers and a place that birds and wildlife will enjoy.

Note: Buttercups are poisonous and can cause death to grazing animals if consumed.

Related Articles:
Your Weeds May Be Wildflowers
Wildlife Gardening
Converting Lawns to Gardens
God and St. Francis on Lawns
Make Your Mowing Better

Living Your Desires

by Donna L. Watkins

Even those who have never gardened, feel a tugging toward plants and soil when they walk through a garden or forest trail. It stirs something within us. I grew up in the city in apartments, so I don't have any gardening memories, but our Sunday entertainment was rides through the country where we would buy fresh produce and see the fields, barns and silos of Pennsylvania. There seemed to be something reverent about the land and farming. Obviously it's our source of food and fuel for these bodies to work and move. If for no other reason, it holds an attraction for that.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Leaf Cutter Ants - Costa Rica
Growing things seem to have the ability to guide and direct us when we spend time with plants, whether in the garden, on the farm, or in the woods. There's some sense of direction or guidance that comes from plant life. We began in harmony with plants in the Garden of Eden and in many ways, I believe we still have that resonance.

Everybody knows that ants are diligent workers since we are told in the Bible to "consider the ant ....... " God often teaches us character qualities through another part of His Creation. Ants are very organized, know their abilities and work within those roles. This is an example of how we should live. Too often we are scatter-brained and disorganized because we're not sure of how many roles we should take on. We also tend to think what we do isn't as important as what somebody else might be doing. That never-ending climb up the ladder only to find that everybody and everything that you really care for now are out of view.

Consider the ant. Diligence is a good character quality, but there's a time and season for everything, and living life within the talents we were given is a way to determine what roles to take on.

Did you know there are ants who garden? There is a particular type of fierce ant that cares for the South American Bull's Horn Acacia Tree. While the ants don't need the tree for their survival, they do eat portions of it. But they never eat enough to cause damage to the tree. In fact, the ants protect their tree - they snip off vines or other growth that comes too close to the tree, maintaining plenty of growing room for their tree. The ants are aggressive enough to keep other insects or even birds or larger animals away from their tree.

In studying this amazing relationship, researchers have removed the ants from some of these trees. Within two to fifteen months the tree is dead. Without the ants' care, animals eat off all the leaves and surrounding plants overrun it.

What about your purpose in life? Some may be called to study and protect a particular tree species, but what are you called to do? Are you doing it? If not, what's dying without you? We were designed with purpose and we are totally unique. Nobody can fulfill the role that God made us for, so something dies in our world if you don't seek and walk in your purpose and passion in life.

Too often we think doing what we're passionate about is being selfish, but those burning desires that never go away, no matter how much you try to minimize them, are God-given if they are desires that will produce good in our world. It's something you were born to do. It comes so naturally that you don't even consider it a skill - it's just you. And that you is what you need to be sharing with the world.

It will not only benefit mankind, but it will bring your heart, soul and body into balance and harmony. It's health to your body and it will simplify your life. When you walk in your calling, all else fades away in importance. You become focused on what God brought you here to do.

Who taught these ants to be gardeners? How could two so very different kinds of life develop such a close relationship? This results in a great mystery for evolution. Without ants you couldn't evolve the tree, and without the tree, the ants couldn't learn to care for it.

You can't get around it. Both were created fully formed, and the Creator taught the ants how to care for the tree. He's also put within you the abilities you need to make those dreams and desires a reality in this world. Don't let them slip away. Don't set them on a shelf. Use them in even the smallest fashion. It will take you one step closer at a time to where you really want to be and one step closer, even if it takes a year for that small step, is still far better than not proceeding at all.

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website:
© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vitamin C Lower Risk Of Gout In Men

Men with higher vitamin C intake appear less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men," the authors write as background information in the article. "Epidemiologic studies suggest that the overall disease burden of gout is substantial and growing. The identification of the risk factors for gout that are modifiable with available measures is an important first step in the prevention and management of this common and excruciatingly painful condition."

Hyon K. Choi, M.D., Dr.P.H., then of University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and now of Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the relationship between vitamin C intake and gout in 46,994 men between 1986 and 2006. Every four years, the men completed a dietary questionnaire, and their vitamin C intake through food and supplements was computed. Every two years, participants reported whether they had been diagnosed with or developed symptoms of gout. Read the entire article.

Problem With Cat Marking

From Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach

My cat has recently started marking in the house. He’s a four-year-old indoor cat and has never done this before. The vet couldn’t find anything physically wrong with him. My husband is fed up and wants the cat to go. He’s such a wonderful cat. I don’t want to get rid of him.

There’s probably been a change somewhere in this cat’s life that has made him start marking around the house. Often a new carpet, new furniture, new animal, or a new person in the house can start this type of behavior. The change makes the cat feel the need to mark in order to announce that this is his territory.

If no obvious changes have been made inside the house, check around outside. There may be a new cat in town that started this cycle. Although your cat is an indoor cat, he may have seen the new cat from a window. Look for signs outside that a cat may have marked bushes or the side of your house. Your cat may be keenly aware of this new visitor and wants to make it clear this is HIS house. If this is the case, block his view of the outside for a while and take steps to discourage the visitor cat from coming around. Put tin foil around bushes near windows and the front door so the cat will not want to go to those areas. If you actually see the cat, you can squirt him with a squirt bottle and hiss to discourage his visits. You don’t need to drench him, just give him the idea that he’s not welcome.

Thoroughly clean any areas where your cat has marked inside. Be sure to use a cleaner without ammonia. Put tin foil in those areas to discourage your cat from going back. Add another cat box to the house to give him some options for elimination. This is a problem that can be stopped with some patience and consistency. Ask your husband for a little more time. After all, this cat is just doing what comes naturally to him. He deserves the opportunity to learn a different behavior that is more acceptable to the humans in his life.

The number one reason for relinquishment of cats to shelters is for elimination problems that could be solved. Don’t give up on this little guy quite yet. For more ideas on cat elimination problems, log on to and click on “Behavior Issues” or call Cheryl at 434-591-6113.

Private sessions are available to help find solutions to behavior problems. People owe it to their animal companions to try everything before relinquishing them to a shelter for behavior problems.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Are Polar Bears Really In Trouble?

Some say that polar bears are going to disappear in 50 years, but Alaskan officials insist their populations are recovering. What’s the real story?

There is no doubt that polar bears are in serious trouble. Already on the ropes due to other human threats, their numbers are falling faster than ever as a result of retreating ice due to global warming. The nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which added the polar bear to its “Red List” of the world’s most imperiled wildlife back in 2006, predicts a 30 percent decline in population for the great white rulers of the Arctic within three generations (about 45 years).

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity presents an even more pessimistic forecast. If current warming trends continue, they say, two-thirds of all polar bears—including all of Alaska’s polar bears—will be extinct by 2050. Both organizations agree that the species as a whole will likely be wiped out completely within 100 years unless humans can get global warming in check.

The erroneous notion that Alaska wildlife officials don’t believe the polar bear is in trouble was put forth by Alaska governor Sarah Palin when she initiated a suit against the federal government in hopes of overturning its decision to include the polar bear under the umbrella of endangered species protection.

“I strongly believe that adding them to the list is the wrong move at this time,” Palin wrote in a January 2008 New York Times Op Ed piece. “My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.”

The real story is that affording the polar bear endangered species protection would bring further regulations capping greenhouse gas emissions, a threat to Alaska’s main economic driver: oil revenues.

Alaska professor Rick Steiner uncovered the misinformation in Palin’s claims when he found evidence that the state’s top wildlife officials agreed with federal findings that polar bears are headed toward extinction: “So, here you have the state’s marine mammal experts, three or four of them, very reputable scientists, agreeing with the federal proposed rule to list polar bears and with the USGS [United States Geological Survey] studies showing that polar bears are in serious trouble,” said Steiner. Read the entire article.

Consider this alternative view about global warming.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Green Flooring and Countertop Options

There's many new flooring options coming into the marketplace to enable homeowners and home builders a variety of options for a green sustainable product that shows a lot of class and style.

If you’re tired of the same old bamboo flooring, some wonderful flooring materials have come out in the last year or so. These relatively new products are exciting, beautiful, environmentally friendly and are certain to bring warmth and style to your remodel or new home. Check them out.

If you are planning a green kitchen remodel, eco-friendly countertops will be an important part of your plans. Consider recycled tile countertops, bamboo counters, and the many other options highlighted here and another article with pros and cons.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Venting Anger Increases It

From Creation Moments

Ephesians 4:31

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

For years those filled with anger were advised to vent their anger. Supposedly venting one's anger – hitting a pillow, breaking things, yelling – would get rid of the anger. To many people, such advice seemed contrary to the spirit of Scripture. And a few more conservative voices in the counseling community maintained that far from dealing constructively with anger, venting actually increases it.

Now, a Duke University study has documented that venting not only increases anger, but is actually bad for one's health. In one study, researchers randomly assigned reading to 600 college students. Some students read pro venting articles, others read anti venting articles, while others read articles on unrelated subjects.

Students were asked to write an essay on the article they read. Then, each was given negative comments about their essay – comments designed to make them angry – followed by the opportunity to hit a punching bag.

Finally, each student was paired with an opponent in a competition that offered an opportunity for aggression. Researchers found that students who read a pro venting article were twice as aggressive as the others. Aggression levels were also linked to how much the students liked hitting the punching bag.

Other studies have shown that anger doubles or triples one's chance of having a heart attack, and long term anger is linked to other health problems as well.

Science has again "learned" what the Bible has always taught: anger is not good for you or anyone else.

Prayer: Forgive me, Father, and take all anger from my heart so that I may show Your love to me in Christ to those around me. Amen.

References: Judy Forman, "New Advice for Hotheads: Cool It," Star Tribune, Sunday May 9, 1999, PE3.

Visit Creation Moments.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Backyard Beekeeping

We visited Ivy Creek's Natural History Day and chatted with a couple at the bee table. I learned a lot more about bees and was fascinated with how easy it is to have bees and make your own honey.

Bees are an extremely vital part of our human existence and well being. Some bees supply us with health-promoting honey or beeswax, and mostly all bees take part in pollinating our landscape, a necessary step in the cultivation of our food supply.

With continuous buzz around declining bee populations and great concern over whether this may lead to wide spread starvation, do-it-yourselfers are turning to beekeeping, not only to help the insect increase its numbers but to also benefit from its sweet nectar.

Beekeeping is gaining so much popularity that even local government officials in cities like New York City and Minneapolis are stepping in to advocate for it. Read the entire article.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What Does God Require?

by Donna L. Watkins

Common courtesies are become uncommon. There are fewer please and thank you's mentioned and kindness seems to be harder to find in our daily lives. The Bible tells us to be courteous that we might inherit a blessing (I Peter 3:9), but in our rushing to and fro lifestyles, few appear to allocate time for courtesy.

© 2009 Collared Peccary Mom - La Selva Biological Station - Costa Rica
Courtesy is defined by the dictionary as:

Polite behavior; A polite gesture or remark; Willingness or generosity in providing something needed

Do we lead by example? Do we take time to teach our children character through our own behaviors? We are continually teaching by our lifestyle and what they see from us on a daily basis in all of life's situations.

Children will either make us better people for our want for them to be better people ... or they will sadly miss out on learning character. Skills and talents are important, but without character, all of our knowledge and abilities are stunted. Knowledge may be power, but wisdom is the plug that creates a spark.

We are told to live in such a way that people around us will praise our God (Matthew 5:16 - "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven").

How can we tie common courtesy into Scriptural context? Scripture I have often pondered while wondering what God truly wants of me is in Micah 6:6-8:

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

It's so simply stated. We act justly when we choose to do right whether it's difficult or not. We reap what we sow, so it's wise to look for opportunities to sow justice and mercy. Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul [mind, will and emotions] and healing to the bones." That's a harvest I want to reap.

The definition of 'just' is:

Honorable and fair in one's dealings and actions: a just ruler.
Consistent with what is morally right; righteous: a just cause.
Suitable or proper in nature; fitting: a just touch of solemnity.
Based on fact or sound reason; well-founded: a just appraisal.

If we act justly and love mercy, we will walk more humbly before our God, and we will entice others to walk behind us on that path. The world needs to see something different within us. You'll find that it feels really good and you will delight in the results it brings to your family.

Isaiah 58:8 comes to mind:

"Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free, And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard."

We all need recovery within our bodies and minds. We needs bands broken and oppressions freed. Sowing into others reaps benefits within our own lives and the lives of our family. Whether we sow physical bread, clothes and housing, or provide monetary funds for others to do so, life will be brighter for you and healing will occur within our hearts and minds. And most of all ... God will be glorified.

Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website:
© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
The link URL is:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Red Meat Increases Risk of Dying

People who eat red meat every day have a higher risk of dying over a 10-year period -- mostly because of cardiovascular disease or cancer -- than their peers who eat less red or processed meat, according to a new study of about half a million people.

People who ate the most red meat had about a 30 percent greater risk of dying than those who ate the least.

"This is the biggest and highest quality study like this," says Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, which was published Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine. "They collected the diet data very carefully, and it's saying to people, 'You don't have to eat red meat every day.' "

In the study, a research team led by Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, looked at more than 500,000 people who were aged 50 to 71 when they enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health study.

Over a 10-year period, people who ate the most red meat every day (about 62.5 grams per 1,000 calories per day, equivalent to a quarter-pound burger or small steak per day) had about a 30 percent greater risk of dying compared with those who consumed the least amount of red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day). The excess mortality was mostly the result of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The red meat in the study included all types of beef and pork, including bacon, cold cuts, ham, hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak, as well as meat in pizza, chili, lasagna, and stew. Read the entire article.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Buy, Sell or Trade Local Veggies

Have a bumper harvest of winter squash that's leaving you stumped in the kitchen? Or maybe you have a hankering for fresh, local broccoli rabe. Get your barter on at Veggie Trader, a free Web community that allows members to buy, sell, and trade greens with their neighbors. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Divine Guidance

by Donna L. Watkins

How often have you said to yourself, "I just don't seem to be hearing from God." There is so much noise in this world and a clamoring to get things done that the still small voice of God gets drowned out.

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Costa Rica
I have always felt there was a mystical quality to being up between 4 and 5 AM. Everything seems so still compared to the buzz of the day that seems to begin at 6 AM. I've often thought that God walks in the gardens and woodlands of the world at those hours in all the time zones. I've felt Him close beside me at those hours.

I suppose the reason most people have their Bible time in the mornings is because we realize that we absorb more and hear better in those earlier hours than we do after our brain is buzzing with activity. Although we live in a quiet neighborhood with woods behind us, the buzz of the shopping center behind and the traffic of the highway nearby are very noticeable as the day goes on.

Yet, we should be able to communicate with God at any time of the day no matter how busy. His promise is that He is always there. However, with busy brains and long task lists, it becomes harder for us to hear.

It's soon time for the hummingbirds to come back to our garden. These tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbirds travel to Central America in the fall with a 500 mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico. That requires 18-20 hours of non-stop flying. How incredible is that!? This tiny bird not much bigger than your thumb flies at 25 mph, which is faster than a ship on the seas below it.

Before our hummingbirds from Central Virginia even reach the take-off point on the Gulf, they've traveled almost a thousand miles. What kind of determination accomplishes that? Where does that much strength and endurance come from? God created the hummingbirds to amaze and delight our human minds. He has made so many things that we can hardly fathom.

Within hummingbirds and within us is a guidance system. Many things are chalked up to being genetics and instincts, but do you know the hummingbird makes his migration journey alone? Even a young juvenile just born here in Virginia will make his way to Central America alone. He will know when to go, which direction to fly, how far to fly each day, and knows when to stop. For those who have made the journey before, they will remember specific feeding places even though terrain, buildings and highways have been altered.

Do you think God gives hummingbirds more of a sense of direction than He gives us? He promises us the same if not more. Consider Psalm 32:8: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

God has a definite and set plan for your life and He will be the One to guide you every step of the way into the fulfillment of that plan! But if we're not listening, we will not be walking in our purpose, so taking time to listen and be in God's Word to hear from Him is an essential part of each day. It takes practice.

There is not a detail in your life that God will not be willing to help you out with - no matter how small or trivial you think it is. The Holy Spirit is called "the Helper" in the Bible. Why do we go to friends and family for opinions when we have God's wisdom to draw upon? Don't let the clamor and glamour of this world keep you from a personal relationship with Christ and don't let anybody tell you that God doesn't speak to people. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice." (Jn. 10:27) Tap into the wisdom of God today.

Proverbs 3:5-6: "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." Don't you long for straight paths? I do. This website is a helpful resource with Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Silver Fights The Germ War

Antibiotics are becoming more potent and dangerous as their failure rate increases. They are also the cause of new strains of superbugs, like MRSA. Health care costs are rocketing out of control and bioterrorism is a real threat. We've stocked up on this item because of it's effective for many health ailments.

With a variety of viral flu outbreaks, e-coli contamination, and a host of other potential pandemics that create a strain on health in America, the new Silver Shield solution and gel offers a fighting chance in germ warfare.

"Silver has undergone rigorous testing and has been found to kill anthrax, bubonic plague, hospital staph and SARS. This product is EPA approved ... In short, we currently do not have anything with such a wide spectrum of efficacy in our inventory."
General P.K. Carlton, M.D., Director of Integrative Center for Homeland Security

Silver provides a simpler and more economical solution for many health issues besides fighting any invaders that would challenge your immune system. Read the entire article.

NUTRO Pet Food Deaths and Illnesses

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that the agency is investigating NUTRO pet food, following a series of unexplained illnesses and deaths. Consumers have been complaining for more than two years that their pets have become ill after eating NUTRO products; many have recovered when they were switched to other foods. The company has steadfastly denied that its food is to blame.

Until now, the FDA has been mum about whether it was actively investigating the company. Today, the FDA’s Division of Freedom of Information confirmed the agency has an ongoing investigation into NUTRO — and said that investigation could be criminal or civil in nature. The office did not elaborate on the nature or focus of that investigation. Read the entire article.

May 21, 2009 Update: Nutro Voluntarily Recalls Dry Cat Food Products

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stress and Well-Being Quick Technique

The Quick Coherence Technique® helps you create a coherent state, offering access to your heart’s intelligence. It uses the power of your heart to balance thoughts and emotions, helping you to achieve a neutral, poised state for clear thinking. It is a powerful technique that connects you with your energetic heart zone to help you release stress, balance your emotions and feel better fast.

The technique is a rapid three-step tool that is a great first step for shifting into coherence and experiencing a sense of well-being, which are essential for creating personal confidence when building loving and lasting relationships. Write down the 3-step technique now. It only takes a minute to process through the 3 steps.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Japanese Beetles And Birds

We are plagued with Japanese Beetles every year and they take over our Rose of Sharon bushes hardly allowing them to bloom since they eat the buds.

One year I picked them off and put them in water and felt so bad about it. Instinct told me that something could possibly benefit by leaving them. We now leave them. The bushes are not good to look at and certainly not nice to be around. JB's hang around for 4-6 weeks with an interest in about 300 species of plants. Fortunately for us, they seem to congregate mainly on the Rose of Sharons.

Some birds love to eat Japanese beetle, so attract them to your landscape with birdbaths, feeders and nesting boxes that are nearby where you have beetle problems. Don’t chase away starlings! These birds may be considered pests, but again, they have a great purpose when it comes to Japanese beetles. They eat the adult beetles and the grubs in the ground.

Another great natural enemy is the Spring Tiphia wasp, which was imported into America from China to control the beetles. The female wasp goes into the soil and lays her eggs right on Japanese beetle grubs, killing up to 85 percent of the grubs in a lawn. Sounds way better than poisonous chemical insecticides! Plant forsythia, peonies, and firethorn to attract these beneficial wasps.

After they are done feasting, they lay eggs that produce grubs that winter over and become beetles next year. There are many critters that dig these grubs up and eat them. Sometimes I find one while digging in the garden and I put it in the bird feeder as a juicy morsel for some fortunate bird. If you've got turf grasses, these guys will kill it. Fortunately we don't want a lot of grass since it doesn't serve much purpose for wildlife, so that's not been a concern.

My friends and neighbors have tried sprays and the bags that you hang around the garden to collect them, but their bushes don't appear to look any better than ours during this time period. The beetles release a substance that attracts more beetles and these bags have that substance in them. However, I've read online at various places that the bags seem to attract more beetles than they collect, so they're mostly being promoted now by places that sell them. If you have a neighbor using one to attract the JB's then you'll definitely have them in your garden.

Patience is something I get to practice while waiting for the beetles to have their fill and be finished with our bushes and then the bushes seem to bloom profusely. It seems that the beetles have given them determination to shine after the battle is over.

Get some ideas on safe, non-toxic methods in this Gardens Alive article:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Live Simply, Love Extravagantly

What would you sacrifice to change the world? Your job? Your lifestyle? Your money?

We need a smaller footprint. The pursuit of the American dream has left most of us empty, stretched in nine different directions and self-absorbed. Aside from the occasional natural disaster, we’ve all but forgotten about the people around the world and down the street who need us and need us to live differently. We need to live more simply.

We want to make a bigger handprint. In a world crying out for help, we struggle to believe we can make a difference. But reformation starts with people who have one idea they believe can change their world and the power of God s love changes everything. We need to love more extravagantly.

The world is changing whether we like it or not. The question that begs to be answered is this: Will you sit by idly and watch it change for the worse or will you allow God to put you on the forefront of changing it for the better? Small Footprint, Big Handprint is your invitation to embark on a journey for the latter. Read an excerpt from the book.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Outdoor Poison Exposure Concerns

Springtime brings new poison exposure dangers, warns the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). Poisonous plants, snakes, pesticides and fuel products are just a few hazards of which consumers should be aware.

Nice weather prompts many people to begin planting and tending to a garden. The use of pesticides and fertilizers to supplement a green thumb, however, can pose potential hazards.

“Use your common sense when using pesticides,” explains AAPCC Board Member Edward P. Krenzelok, PharmD, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center. “Always follow label directions and remember to keep children and pets away from pesticides.”

Dr. Krenzelok offered the following suggestions:

• Keep pesticides locked-up where children cannot see them or reach them.
• Keep pesticides in their original containers.
• Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
• Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling or using pesticides.

Nice weather means cutting the grass and as well as summer barbeques. As a result, fuels such as gasoline, kerosene and charcoal lighter fluid are often left around the yard. Always keep these products secure from children.

Not all mushrooms are poisonous, but they should never be eaten unless they have been certified safe by an expert. To protect children, check your yard regularly for mushrooms and dispose of any you find. Instruct children never to touch, taste or eat any outdoor mushrooms.

Warm weather inevitably brings out insect hordes. Wear a Medic-Alert bracelet if you suffer from a life-threatening allergic reaction to insect bites or stings.

In the spring, snakes emerge from their winter hibernation hungry for food and water. The best way to prevent snake bite is to avoid them – most people are bitten when trying to capture or otherwise disturb the creatures.

Poison control centers around the country are prepared to respond with information and treatment advice about springtime poison exposures. To reach a local poison center call 1-800-222-1222. More information about poison exposures may be found on the AAPCC’s Website at

Editor's Note:
We personally switched from all the toxic chemicals for our yard and garden back when we started thinking our our son's little feet being on the poison-filled grass and his little hands playing in the poison-soaked dirt in our flower and vegetable beds.

Sure, you won't find your children or pets dead on the ground after exposure, but those warnings aren't on the bags and written in the above press release for nothing. These chemicals accumulate over time and research is now showing how much damage they are doing to humans, birds and other forms of wildlife.

Products are being made available in the large "big box" stores, so there's no excuse. The prices are sometimes the same, but even when they're more, consider the real cost of the product when you look down the road to it's side effects for your family and generations to come. We're in a green revolution. Hop in and enjoy the extremely gratifying ride of seeing the big picture of our choices.

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