Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day Reminds Me of God's Love

by Donna L. Watkins

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, I've been flashing back to a photo taken on July 4th, 2012, since it was such a victorious day for me. Other than needing to gain a few pounds and build my strength back, I was free of all symptoms from the heart crisis. The 25 lbs. of fluid were gone; the racing and erratic heartbeat was gone after I agreed in prayer for it to return to normal; I was off the oxygen and ready to return the machine; no drugs or supplements being used; and I was able to sleep flat in my own bed instead of the guest room; and many more things that I still rejoice in. Just being able to eat without nausea and not care how much sodium is in a food ... on and on.

Asiatic Lilies - Daniel Stowe Gardens, Belmont, NC
It's good to remember the victories as we move through life, so when the devil tosses something else in, we can see that it's all lies. That's why Israel built memorials to remember things. When God split the Jordan river and Israel miraculously crossed into the promised land to fight for their inheritance, the Lord had them bring twelve stones from the middle of the river and pile them up on the other side. This was a memorial to future generations. God is bigger than any disease name. I was and am filled with awe and praise of our Father who made provision for healing so long ago. [Read: Healing Is Part of Salvation]

All we have to do is believe it and receive it. I would think that would make all of me well at one time, but I've heard many that were healed from long-term diseases say that it took a period of time because the disease becomes part of you. I will rest in Him and continue to focus on His love for me and to spend time picturing what I'll be doing when I am totally healed.

People ask me if I think the heart problems have been healed. What can I say? I can't look inside me and I'm certainly not going to pay more medical bills just to get a confirmation. As long as I can live life again with energy and endurance and feel even better than I did before the heart problems, that's good enough for me.

The doctor told Randal to call Hospice because there was no way my heart had enough functioning to deal with all the problems I was having so there would be no change other than for me to finally drown in the fluids that were increasingly building within my body. I normally weighed 120 pounds so I had already gained 21% of my body weight in fluids.  I had refused surgery six weeks before and had spent many weeks in bed before going to the doctor.  Even turning over was a major event.

Am I healed?  I believe so.  I have not arrived on the subject of healing, but I understand a whole lot more than I ever have, and the main point being that God Wants Us Well (this is the book that turned my understanding of healing around). Until we believe that in our heart (not only in our minds as knowledge) we will not have a faith for being healed.

God Is My Refuge
That's What I Think When I See This Photo
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrell's Inlet, SC
The more healing stories I hear, the more I realize that not many are instantaneous, which is what I have so wanted for my whole body. But when we seek Him with our whole heart, He will meet with us and give understanding. I've spent regular morning time with God since I was saved in 1976, but it was one of those things I did because I wanted to please God and also wanted to know the Bible more.

Now my entire being is motivated just to have a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Daddy.  There seems to be no limit to God's love and I want to spend my time seeking His face and being able to comprehend through His revelation the amazing love He has for us.  [Read Ephesians 3]  The God of the Universe wants to fellowship with me.  That's why we were all created!  One of the main things we have to know in our hearts is the love of God. Faith works by love so we have to understand His love for us. [Read: God's Kind of Love]

I believed in healing for many years and prayed for healing, but certainly didn't seek God with my whole heart just for Who He is. And what I thought was belief, was only a brain storage file of knowing that God could heal, but there wasn't much evidence that I had seen. We Americans are so multi-task oriented that we tend to want God to operate on our time schedule. That didn't work for me. When I began studying healing, I realized what I believed was mixed with doubt and unbelief which tipped my faith scales to the opposite side of results. Jesus said so many times, "only believe," or "according to your belief be it unto you ..."

The road seems to be long for us analytical and detailed people. I also have never been great at receiving. I love to give instead! But I think not being able to receive is linked into pride in some way and that's something Holy Spirit has gently pointed out to me. Think: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). It's not until we realize that in ourselves we can accomplish nothing, but in Christ it has already been done.

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Helping Feral Cats in Winter

No matter how resourceful feral cats are, they need help surviving winter. Here’s what you can do.

Step 1: Give outdoor cats shelter from the cold - creating a life-saving shelter for outdoor cats is easy and inexpensive.

Step 2: Give cold outdoor cats food and water - protect feral cats from hunger and thirst this winter by keeping their food and water from freezing.

Get the details and tips on doing both of these.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reaping Your Harvest

by Andrew Wommack

LUKE 6:17-49
LUKE 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
This verse reveals one of God's cardinal laws that will work in the spiritual realm, as well as the physical world. Just as we "give" seed into the ground to receive back multiple seeds, so it is with everything we give.

Whether it's money, possessions, an emotion such as love or hate, prayers, or our time, we will reap a harvest of whatever we give. We reap exactly what we sow and proportional to the same measure that we give (Gal. 6:7-8).

"He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). This law works on positive or negative things that we sow.

Although this is an unchangeable law of God, it can be overcome by a greater law in much the same way that we can escape the law of gravity by using the greater laws of thrust and lift.

The negative things we have given don't have to come back to us if we apply the greater law of forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:9). Likewise, the good things we have sown can be voided if we don't continue in well doing (Gal. 6:9).

God is our source, but God uses people. If we pray for finances, God is not going to make counterfeit currency and put it into your wallet. He will use people to get the money to you.

So, it is not always as simple as praying for money and receiving it the next minute. We need to believe the Lord hears and answers our prayers, and then pray for the people He's going to use to deliver the answer. This could mean any number of people such as our employer and the people who buy our goods. Ultimately God is your source, trust Him.

Visit Andrew's Website.

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New Health Food for Large Breed Puppies

Life's Abundance Health Food for Pets
Life’s Abundance Premium Health Food For Large Breed Puppies contains a precise balance of protein, calories, calcium and phosphorus to encourage healthy, controlled growth rates and aid in the development of strong teeth and bones.

The Ingredients in this food were carefully chosen for their individual nutrients, which work together to provide a comprehensive and perfectly balanced meal to help your puppy grow and thrive.

We cultivate long-term relationships with our suppliers to make sure we obtain the highest quality ingredients and we've made it our mission to provide companion animals with exactly what they need to help ensure a lifetime of good health.

Big bundles of joy, large breeds have so much to offer. They’re intelligent, playful, affectionate and loyal. The bonding is almost instantaneous and the new arrival becomes part of the family. And, just like any other family member, making sure your puppy starts on the path to a long, healthy life from day one is imperative. Feeding a food formulated to meet your large breed’s specific needs is vital to your puppy’s well-being.  Read the details.

The Star-nosed Mole - A Face To Love


The Star-nosed Mole is a dark little creature that burrows in muck. It can swim, too—no other mole can swim. But what most sets it apart is that distinctive nose, which looks more like a misplaced sea anemone than a nasal appliance.

The nose consists of twenty-two small tentacles. Together these tentacles contain some 25,000 touch sensors and 100,000 nerve fibers, and these make the nose several times more sensitive than a human hand. No wonder the Star-nosed Mole is said to possess the best sense of touch of all animals.

So don’t forget this little guy next time you hear about the benefits of a nose-job—sometimes you just can’t improve on nature! Read more about this mole.

In case you think moles are totally a bad thing, be sure to read this post: Moles Benefits Garden. They are great bug and grub eaters.

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Why Shop-a-holics - Where It All Began


The Story of Stuff is a powerful video about how we got here and what it is doing to our planet.

It talks about how my grandmother’s generation was committed to resourcefulness, stewardship and thrift. So what happened between then and now to bring us to this place of ultra consumerism which threatens the extinction of our planet?

It all started right after WWII. In order to jump-start the economy, President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers had to come up with a plan to get people to buy – and quickly! The guru and retail analyst of the day, Victor Legough, wrote in 1955:

Our Enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption…we need things burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.

Egads! Consuming was linked with spiritual satisfaction and ego satisfaction (Sounds like an oxymoron to me!) Shopping became a ritual and it promised fulfillment.

So the era of “shopping as a spiritual practice” began! It was a message crafted by the government in cooperation and collaboration with the advertising media. The people bought it, and continue to do so to this day. Read the entire article.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Focus on Love

by Donna L. Watkins

With a month behind me since the new year began, I find myself still challenged with wanting to focus on one topic / attribute of God that I can truly grab better hold of before the end of this year.  I've had a challenge choosing only one, but then I'm so used to multi-tasking that it's always hard for me to choose one thing to focus on.  That seems to be "the nature in us" in the society we live in.

What would Jesus say is the most important thing to focus on?  How about LOVE?

© Donna L. Watkins - The Seed Within
"This sculpture is based on a macro look at a micro world.

If you look at even the smallest seedpod and slowly start peeling
it away, you discover within exists the complex structural world."
--  Frank Holder, the Artist - View Enlarged Image
Jesus emphasized how important love was in our lives.  To understand God's love and have that love flow through us to others.  To understand that we are one with Him. He in us and we in Him. The illustration of the vine and branches in John 15 helps us to understand the abiding that we need to do in Christ to receive all that is ours through Him. The more I fall in love with God, the deeper I find the well to be.

What a huge package!  And notice that the emphasis is on His love for us.  Not our love for Him.  Our human love is nothing compared to His agape love.  We use the word love for silly things compared to what it means when we're talking about God's kind of love for us.  We love ice cream, chocolate, our pets, sports, etc. God loves us enough to come to earth and die for us.  What a contrast!

Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 has been my prayer often in the past months ..."that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

This indicates it is a knowing of the heart since it surpasses knowledge which for me implies something we know in our mind.  Jesus often spoke of having eyes to see and ears to hear, but He was talking to people who had both externally, so He was speaking of seeing and hearing with our hearts.

If we knew this kind of love, we wouldn't have to "try" to be obedient.  We wouldn't have to "make ourselves" what we think we should be.  New year resolutions have many people making lists of their greatest weaknesses so they can "do better" this year on pleasing God.

Fact is, we already please God.  Our actions have nothing to do with how God loves us.  If that were so, He wouldn't have bothered with Adam and Eve after their betrayal with the serpent.  He certainly wouldn't be talking with Cain after he treacherously killed his brother, nor would he have given Cain a mark to protect him from being killed (Genesis 4:9-15).  That doesn't make sense to us if we believe we have to be holy to fellowship with God.

That kind of love seems unattainable and yet now and then I see a glimpse of it in human form as I pass through this world.  I know it's possible.  We can all think of Mother Teresa.  You could not do in human strength what she accomplished on this earth.  Only God's kind of love could flow as it did in her.  We all catch glimpses of this kind of love.  I suppose it's a reminder from God that it is possible if we choose to "seek God with all our heart."

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8

What a promise and reward for leaning into our Lord; for resisting the urge to go with what we think is the right thing rather than knowing the Word and always lining up our decisions with that Word.  It's not quality time that builds relationships, it's quantity and quality time.  Relationships take time and it's not different if we want to deepen our walk with our Lord.  Not to earn His favor, but to be who we were created to be.  A friend of God.

© Donna L. Watkins - Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron
Maturing Into First Year Plumage - Brookgreen Gardens, SC
God made the entire universe and then created man to place in it so he would have a deep relationship with his loving Creator.  The God of the Universe wants to fellowship, walk and talk with us.  Sometimes I can't even focus in on anything because my mind cannot comprehend that kind of god or that kind of love.

And in that I believe is why we don't see happening all that the Bible says is ours in Christ.  Christ died to give us salvation and that word is a whole realm more than just a ticket to heaven when we die.  [Read:  What Part of You Rules Your Life?]

I seem to get caught up in the details of things such as healing.  It becomes a complicated process in my head and yet I've had the most healing when I was in my weakest state.  In the world we do better when we are strong and get things done ... but in the Kingdom those who are weak are the strongest.

I've been meditating on another prayer of Paul's:  "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

Simplicity of Christ?  The gifts of God through grace.  We are so works oriented we can't grasp the simplicity of such a gift and I believe in this we err because we do not seem to be able to reach out and accept it.  Such a huge and magnificent gift such as healing ... just by reaching out like a child to its father for food.

We accepted forgiveness of sins because we knew a God that created us could do that through our sorrow of things we had done ... but when we are not taught at the same time that by Jesus' stripes we were also healed ... our spiritual pathway gets encumbered by many things and the road to healing is more challenging.

And there I stand with a question mark on my face that is usually the end of some question relating to me doing something when there is nothing that I can add to what Christ has already done to make it so.

I pray for all of us who have been so independent all of our lives, those who are so capable and detailed and talented in the natural realm, that we would be able to comprehend the simplicity of Christ to be free of the corruption that the devil places upon us.  Amen and Amen!

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7 Ways to Curb Your Addiction to Stuff


Aside from the fact that our addiction to consuming is threatening the extinction of our planet, it is also personally exhausting to maintain mountains of stuff. It drains your life energy. It is an endless cycle of spending and consuming and dumping to make room for more stuff so you can do it all over again.

If you would like to extricate yourself from this lifestyle but are stumped about how to do so, here are steps that you can do now to start to curb your own addiction to stuff, lighten your footprint on the planet, and lighten your own load. Read on ... 7 Steps to Curb our Addiction to Stuff.

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Cause of Chemical Imbalance & Depression

From San Francisco

The concept “chemical imbalance” is a vague concept, and it normally refers to having the wrong amount (too much or too little) of particular brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain, which is believed to adversely affect one’s mood and behavior.

For example, the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine are thought to play a major role in people’s moods, such that if there is not the right balance of these chemicals in our brains, then we are susceptible to problems like depression and bipolar disorder.

Researchers say they can show this is true by comparing brain scans of healthy people with scans of depressed (or schizophrenic, etc.) people and see they are different. The problem is that these brain scans only show there’s a difference in brain chemistry between healthy brains and depressed ones; they do not show what CAUSED the difference ... Read the entire article.

Related Resources

Most Store Brands Honey Isn't Honey

From Food Safety News

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.” The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.  Read the entire article and view a list of brands that were tested.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

So Great a Faith

by Andrew Wommack
Matthew 8:9-10, "For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
MATTHEW 8:5-13, LUKE 7:1-10

There were only two things in all of scripture that caused Jesus to marvel. They were (1) the Centurion's faith and (2) the Jews' unbelief (Mk. 6:6). A faith that made Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, marvel is worth examining.

This centurion believed that the spoken word of Jesus was sufficient to produce his miracle. He didn't need Jesus to come to his house. He had faith in Jesus' word. Therefore, we can see that the person who simply believes the written Word of God is operating in a much higher form of faith than those who require additional proof. Compare this centurion's faith with the "little" faith of Thomas in John 20:24-29!

Thomas refused to believe what He couldn't see or feel. Our five senses were given to us by God and are necessary to help us function in this life. But if we do not renew our minds to acknowledge the limits of the five senses, they will keep us from believing. Faith can perceive things that the senses cannot (Heb. 11:1).

The type of faith that Thomas operated in was a human or natural faith that was based on what he could see. Jesus said there was a greater blessing to be obtained. That greater blessing comes from using a supernatural, God-kind of faith that is based only on God's Word.

Jesus and God's Word are one (Jn 1:1, 14). Believing God's Word is not just putting your trust in some printed words on the pages of a book we call the Bible. There is much more involved. It is a relationship with a person, the person behind the words. Get to know Him through His Word.

Visit Andrew's Website.

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Video Pet Talk - Winter Care Tips

Video by Dr. Sarah

There’s never a bad time to adopt a puppy. That being said, caring for a wee pup in the middle of the winter season offers its own set of challenges. Just like with a newly mobile toddler, you’ve got to take certain precautions to ensure puppy safety.

But puppies aren’t the only creatures who need a helping hand during the cold months … in this episode of Pet Talk, we’ve got something for every pet parent. We’re kicking it old-school with a replay of one of Dr. Sarah’s more popular episodes, but with a twist. We’ve added some updated info at the beginning of the episode that’s vital for all pet parents to see. Watch the latest episode of Pet Talk now

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The Web of Love


© Donna L. Watkins - Garden Spider
View enlarged image
Fragile as a spider’s web
Hanging in space
Between tall grasses,
It is torn again and again.
A passing dog
Or simply the wind can do it.

Several times a day
I gather myself together
And spin it again.

Spiders are patient weavers.
They never give up.
And who knows
What keeps them at it?
Hunger, no doubt,
And hope.

Lines from May Sarton’s “Love” encourage us to view love not as something simply bestowed upon us, as we so often demand, but as something we must repeatedly recreate.

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How Do Birds Survive the Cold?

From NWF

Birds have an amazing ability to find refuge from storms, but they do it in a variety of ways, depending on the species and the bird’s natural habitat. Some birds huddle together, others find dry spots out of the weather and some use even more creative methods to survive.

Bluebirds, for example, often winter as far north as New England. They find protection against the cold and storms by communal roosting, often in a bird house. There are photographs of 13 male eastern bluebirds, all crowded into one bluebird house. This behavior shares warmth, and keeps the birds out of the wind, rain and snow. Read the entire article.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Newsletter - 1/15/13

The Nature In Us Newsletter

Hope-filled New Year!

Over the years my list of resolutions have been shorter and shorter as I realize that it's only what you focus on for a period of time that you retain and maintain.  This year I've been wanting to focus on the love of God.  However, that's a deep subject.  I think we've made God complicated in many ways.  Or we have simply believed a lie that the Bible can't be understood by common man.  That's a lie from the devil.  He's a master deceiver as we know from the account of his deception with Adam and Eve.

The Bible was written for common man!  It's God's instruction manual to us.  We have been making it a real priority in our lives for the past year by giving it a lot of quantity time.  Life is a journey of sowing and reaping and right now I want to be sowing of Word seeds by planting the Word in my heart until it brings forth a harvest.

Although my mind is always filled with things I'd like to get done, I am more and more denying my flesh's desire to DO and making the choice to choose a journey of BEING.  God maintains His original desire of wanting to walk and talk with us in the "garden of life" just like He did with Adam and Eve.  That's why we were created and that's why He didn't give up on us when sin entered the world.  He loved us too much to scrap that project and begin again.

© Donna L. Watkins - Eastern Bluebird
Eating Mealworms From the Rabbit's Basket
View Enlarged Photo
With the colder weather the bluebirds have been visiting more often for the dehydrated mealworms and also the suet feeders. Since we named our place "Bluebird Cove" when we certified it as an NWF Backyard Wildlife Habitat, we definitely enjoy seeing them.

We moved here to Virginia from Alabama where we lived in pretty dense forest, so we rarely saw a bluebird since they like open areas to forage. The first week we were in our house we began seeing a lot of bluebirds and were very excited. Hence the word Bluebird. The Cove portion of the name was added since our lot was the last one before the cul-de-sac. In a visual sort of way, a cul-de-sac is a cove so it seemed to fit.

You may think this bluebird is saying, "where's the worms" but they're in there. It's just no longer full to the top. Maybe he doesn't like standing on his head to eat them.

The cast iron rabbit is from my friend, Dotty, a previous neighbor who moved to Roanoke. It makes me and the birds feel like she's still here. I love heavy things that I can paint for the garden. Easy to maintain with a bit of paint and the squirrels can't drag it away. 

Yes! The squirrels do take things from our porch and gardens. Brushes I place beside the birdbaths to make cleaning easy is one of them. One squirrel tried to carry off a large ceramic snail given to me by my friend, Carolyn. It hangs over a pot that was on the front porch and I happened to pass the window while the squirrel was trying to carry it away. What is it with these squirrels? Do they get bragging rights or some kind of point system for bringing home the most unusual item?

© Donna L. Watkins - Squirrel Trying to Carry
Away a Ceramic Snail That Hung on the Side of
a Large Planter on Front Porch
View Enlarged Photo
We set up the front porch buffet to provide a squirrel-free area for the birds. The way that works is that we use seed that squirrels won't eat. We have thistle feeders, safflower seeds, suet and mealworms. They would eat the suet, but the two feeders are hanging where they don't have any hopes of jumping to.

We ran out of safflower seeds and weren't scheduled for a trip to town yet, so we put black-oil sunflower seeds in a feeder and it didn't take but a few hours for the squirrels to notice the droppings and realize there was something of interest up there. The holly tree by the feeder was an easy "trail" to the feeder, but it still wasn't easy since the branches weren't hard enough for them to jump from.

I took the funniest video of one squirrel stretching so high and actually losing his footing on the little branch he was stretching from. They are so cute and such entertainment!

Enjoy the 38 second squirrel video!

We love our birds and that includes the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers which are winter visitors here at Bluebird Cove. This pair seems to have a fondness for holly trees this year. That's all they've been working on. Fortunately we have 6 of them so they are alternating, but a favorite has been the one by the breakfast window where the most human activity is. Strange.

© Donna L. Watkins - Results of the
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Couple
Feasting on Our Holly Tree
View Enlarged Image
For awhile I was able to open the window which was only 3' from it and take pictures. But Randal tapped the glass a few times to chase it away to another tree and it became more skittish when I lifted the window. I guess they're not as good as crows remembering the faces of people who are safe.

As you can see on the photo, they've sucked quite a bit of sap out of this tree. The patterns they make are quite amazing. The tree that is on the other side of the bay window has the same pattern. It was a favorite of a previous year. Seems they do rotate and give trees a chance to recover and grow before they come back again. Although one year we lost a Firethorn bush from girdling. It had such a small trunk that it didn't take much to girdle it and that year they circled it many times.

This photo was taken ten (10) days ago and they are now working on the branches hanging under them and tapping away.  We are beginning to get a bit concerned.  Having one holly tree on one side of a bay window would not be the most pleasant thing to tolerate.

January is tax time for us. So we've been gathering up files and figures to give the accountant for the Corporate return - that meeting was on the 8th - checkmark! We should be hearing back from him pretty soon which means I get to do our personal return before the end of January. I want it over with ASAP. I can't imagine using even an hour of Springtime on tax returns. I love having it done and over with long before that.

With so much information being accessible to us online, it's easy to get end of year statements and forms we need. Now I have to get to the library to pick up forms. I still like doing it on paper and not electronically. I'm sure there's a lot of you with the same mindset. Amazing how I like so many things simple and yet can magnify details and thoughts into complicated things. The simplicity that is in Christ is a big thing to grasp to a mind filled with details and the need to know all.

© Donna L. Watkins - Sculptured Purple Flower Pouch
Perfect Fit for My Pocket Camera
My sweet friend, Maggie, sent me a beautiful pouch with a flower on it and of course, it's purple! I wasn't sure what I would use it for and then realized that my pocket camera was the perfect size. I like having the little camera with me when I don't want to take my larger camera, so I will sometimes toss it into my purse, but with the screen on the back always made me nervous about it getting scratched. Now it won't be a problem at all! Maggie knows I love purple and love flowers. She's one special woman who spends a lot of time helping others.

Our precious kitty, Squeek (aka Kitty Girl), is getting so spoiled this winter. She likes to be in cozy baskets so I make places for her to change things up. In good weather she's got plenty of excitement and stimulation from spending her days, and nights many times, out on the screened porch, but neither of us consider this good weather.  Although my friend, Genevieve in Canada, would certainly disagree with me.

© Donna L. Watkins - Is There a Kitty on That Shelf?
Squeek, aka Kitty Girl, in the bottom shelf of my desk.
View Enlarged Photo
Having been a cross-country skier at one time, she requested snowshoes for Christmas to use for exercise.  She now realizes she has more muscles than she thought she had because they're screaming at her.  The last time she mentioned them she said she wasn't going out that day since it was minus 14 degrees.  That's beyond my imagination!

Back to Squeek ... she had been lying in a basket by my desk that is currently in the dining room.  It's a small closeup type of desk so it gets moved around for the best views of the season.  This year it's in the dining room so I can watch the "front porch bird buffet."  The front porch sometimes looks like it's Grand Central Station with various species of birds on the feeders, on the porch itself (ground feeders), on the heated bird bath, on the suet feeders, or waiting in line on the two tall holly trees there.  The only ones that seem to fuss are the House Finches.  Every body else is quite peaceable, at least until one of the large woodpeckers flies in.  They then take flight to the bushes.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Donna's Close-up Desk
Amazing how much this little thing holds and now
it even has room for my kitty.
Since the basket by the desk was really in my way when we did puzzles on the weekends, I decided to make the bottom shelf of my desk a cozy spot for Squeek by adding a cushion and a towel over it. She has really liked it. And I like knowing she's a bit warmer in there also. We don't like keeping the heat very high since it dries everything out so much, so I know it's a bit chilly at floor level. My feet tell me so if I don't have heavy socks and winter slippers on.

The desk photo is from a previous year when I had my winter location at the deck bird buffet. We discovered that the deck buffet which we placed on an outdoor table with an umbrella over it was more of a mess since it was exposed to the elements of the weather and all of the "results" of birds eating. 

Those results are quite the mess to clean up but with a gallon jug of warm water and a scrub brush, the railings turn back to white and the floor loses it's polka dots of bird poop.  It's worth it to enjoy birds at your window all day long!  In the Spring Randal gives it a once-over with the power washer and I get the paint brush to put another coat on the railing and all looks like new again.

We've done two more puzzles (shown here) since my last newsletter but now we're working on one that has 1500 pieces.  It's taking longer than a weekend for that one!

It's called World Traveler, so it's interesting with scenes and names of places all around the world.  Just thinking about some of the warmer ones makes me smile.

Puzzle of American Lighthouses
Randal likes the puzzles that have pictures inside squares or circles, etc. Like this lighthouse puzzle and the one we're working on now.  With the names of the lighthouses and locations, it makes it easy to match up the words and colors. The lighthouse puzzle has 1000 pieces, but goes together a lot quicker than you would think.

Quite the opposite is the small puzzle of 250 pieces.  For me it went very quickly since I love doing flowers and seeing the various colors of the blooms.  Cottages have always been a pleasant image to me also.  I believe my home in heaven will be a cottage in the middle of the woods.  I guess it will have paths of gold instead of streets.

Puzzle:  Carnation Cottage
For those who love the country or woods we can't imagine living in an actual city, but then our Father knows our hearts and all that we love, so He is preparing a place that will be simply perfect for each of us.  Hoping I'll have lots of you nearby!

Last, but not least, thank you so much for your prayers for my breathing problem.  The day after the post went out I noticed a peace about me much heavier than I had before.  I just smiled and sent love out to every one of you.  Many wrote emails that I enjoyed responding to.  It's truly a blessing to be in touch with you and to be "one" with you as Jesus would desire us to be.  The internet provides unique ways to building relationships.

I wish I could report that the breathing problem was gone, but not yet.  It hasn't limited what I can do, the energy I have, nor affected my sleep at all, but I don't like getting out of breath.  I am noticing that I am beginning to cough some stuff up from my lungs, so whatever is blocking the path must be coming out!  I am not at peace with having it dwell in my body, but I know it's only a matter of time.

Anybody else seem to make spiritual things too complicated?  I've been noticing I do.  The spiritual realm cannot be managed like the physical realm.  Most things have to be received by faith and that can't always be explained.  I have been meditating on Paul's prayer for the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:3) who seem to have had the same problem.  Maybe you're one of "us" also.  We who are more independent, organized, capable, etc. have a harder time just receiving what The Cross has given us.  Maybe you'd like to ponder this Scripture also:

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

Love, Hugs & New Year Blessings!


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