Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newsletter - 12/15/11

Hello Dear Friends!

Me and My Honey
Now that cooler weather has hit us, especially with nighttime temps, the bushes are becoming bare and even the mums have given up the fight, so I can say it's officially winter here in Central Virginia, even though we've had some amazing and warm days.  As long as it's sunny outside, I consider it a grand day since with my imagination I can pretend it's warm in that sunshine.

Besides, I've got my love to keep me warm.  Not only my love for my 'honey' but also for the Lord. And His love always keeps us warm.

"May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5

I enjoy going back over photo albums of our trips to natural areas when the weather was warmer.  This photo is from our 33rd Anniversary trip to the Greenville, SC area.  We were sitting beside a waterfall at Table Rock State Park in the mountains.  Lovely!

As I type this I'm watching a Black-capped (or maybe Carolina) Chickadee using the heated birdbath.  Birds need to keep their feathers clean even in winter or they'll have worse problems than a bit of chill from the water.  The detail of their bathing is described in this information from Stanford University:

© 2009 Donna L. Watkins - Titmice and Purple Finch at Birdbath
A bird is considered to be bathing whenever it uses any of several stereotyped movements to wet its feathers. One pattern, wading, is commonly observed in birds with strong feet and broad, short, flexible wings. In a typical sequence a bird stands in the water, fluffs the feathers to expose the bare skin between their bases, and rapidly flicks the wings in and out of the water. The breast is submerged and rolled vigorously back and forth, and then, as the front end emerges, the head is thrown back, forming a cup with the partially elevated wings and tail, and dousing the feathers of the back. Those feathers are elevated so that the water reaches the skin, and then lowered, forcing the water between them. The sequence may be repeated, with the bird submerging farther in each cycle, until it is a mass of soaked disarranged feathers. Variations on this theme can be seen in different species, such as robins, thrushes, mockingbirds, jays, and titmice. After bathing, birds dry themselves using ritualized movements.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Hyssop
One of the Christmas cards we received from a longtime friend I went to school with had hyssop seeds.  I was totally thrilled since we had seen hyssop at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum this year.  It has a purple flower as you can see and that's my favorite color, so at the time I remember thinking how great it would be to have some, but I never pursued it.

Since it's a medicinal herb, the deer would leave it alone, so that would not be a concern.  It's also a perennial once it gets started and that's exciting.  All I have to do now is find a sunny spot on our property for it.  I'll begin the seeds indoors closer to springtime.

I've decided to play a winter game with my sweet husband.  We're going to write down one benefit of having the winter season every day.  We'll take turns, so we're going to have to think and be creative.  We won't begin till the official first day of winter (December 22 this year).  Until then we have begun making our individual list as we think of things.  We may have duplicates but the first one who gets it written down gets to use that item.

We enjoy doing puzzles in the winter so that's one thing I have put on my list to use.  We got out the first one over the Thanksgiving weekend.  You can probably guess the theme of most of our puzzles, which are similar to the one we did.

Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, winters have been a dread, but I don't like having those kinds of feelings and thoughts. I've been listening to some teaching about not letting your feelings control you. Rather than give in to the feeling, I think and meditate on what the Bible says. It says I'm ALWAYS blessed, so that would include winter.

Anyway, I became determined to enjoy every Fall day rather than thinking about the fact that cold weather was arriving. It was truly amazing since we had so many unusually warm days here where we live, I often wondered if the weather was the same a mile away ... or if God just blessed us with a bit of warm right here in the middle of the cold. I had to giggle at the thought. We sure do think that would be totally unusual, but God does special things for us all the time that we probably have never noticed.

Regardless, the change in mind has made all the difference since it's been very peaceful and exciting as I wake up each day to find another gorgeous day. Now that it's colder, I can still find great things to ponder even in a chilly day. It's very odd, but you can call it mind over matter or whatever, but it's working for me. I keep my mind on Him who died for me to give me life abundant and there is plenty of joy in that. I choose to trust God for every minute of every day.

© 2011 Donna L. Watkins - Squirrels and Crows Sharing Food
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3

Since we don't sit on our concrete benches in winter, we use them as bird feeders for the larger critters.  I put a mixture of cracked corn, black oil sunflower seeds and millet on them and the doves, crows, squirrels and even the deer enjoy it tremendously.  I also use the area under the bench to put a big pile so it stays dry and the doves have a sheltered place to avoid the hawks.

I was watching the crows and squirrels learning to share space one day when I took this photo.  The squirrels acted quite selfishly at first, but then they seemed to agree there was enough for all and allowed the crows to dine also.  Aren't we the same?  Sometimes our initial thought or action is selfish and then our conscious reminds us that we're not acting like Jesus, so we change our behavior.

Our favorite son, Benjamin (our only son :-), has decided to promote and sell Nature's Sunshine products.  He has a new website and being of the social media generation is promoting it in many ways we've never thought about.

Ben, Entrepreneur, Ben's Herbs Place 
If you need any Nature's Sunshine products we'd appreciate you shopping at his website to encourage him.  He has a totally secure website designed and maintained by Nature's Sunshine, so it's safe shopping.

With an order of $40 or more you get free membership and can get wholesale pricing.  Visit Ben's Herbs Place if you need any supplements, herbs, essential oils, children's products and even the new flower essences line.  We certainly don't mind sharing some sales with him.

I've been reviewing this year's photos in the Bluebird Cove Garden Album and the Bluebird Cove Critters Album to give thanks and glory to our Father who created all of the natural world around us.  Colossians 1:17 says, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." What an awesome God we call Father.

May you have a blessed holiday while keeping your focus on the real reason of Christmas.  It's not about buying and spending and gifts to those who have no need of anything.  It's about Love being born into our lives, so share yourself this Christmas and give to those who cannot give back.

If you enjoy this newsletter ... share the website with somebody else.  Maybe you know of somebody who needs something in this issue.  There's a "Share This" option on the right side.  Thanks!

Love and Hugs,

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The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2011 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from The link to use is:

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