Monday, September 1, 2014

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 9/1/14

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 9/1/14 
  by Donna L. Watkins  

Hello Dear Friends!

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Donna at Mepkin Abbey Sitting On a Carving Of
Mary & Joseph Traveling to Bethlehem
View Photos of Mepkin Abbey & Grounds
I recently came across this photo and could feel the instant peace of this place. In December 2007 I took a week at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, SC, as a retreat.  There wasn't a scheduled day other than to appear for meals.  You were on your own to wander and roam about on over 3,000 acres of preserved land.

The experience was very special and definitely different.  I had no background in the Catholic religion but the setting was awesome. Part of the day honored the Lord with contemplative silence (you weren't supposed to talk at all) so to say it was a peaceful place is an understatement. No radios, televisions or internet. With thousands of acres of lovely gardens, ponds, woodlands along the Cooper River, there was much to explore in the natural world.  It is definitely removed from the "real" world.  Read my "Journal of Mepkin Abbey"View Photos of Mepkin Abbey & Grounds.

Randal Looking For The Letterbox in the Ivy
A couple of years ago, we began a fun activity called "Letterboxing." It's an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp journals with a "treasure hunt" type of outdoor quest.  You look for locations near you, or near where you will be traveling, so you can locate the "letterbox" (any type of container hidden somewhere with clues on how to find it).

My favorite website directory of clues to find letterboxes is Atlas Quest.  It has the most options or listings. Begin on the About Us page to see if this activity fits with you and your family.  Then search for letterboxes near your home.

We decided to take an easy one since it was along the way of our task list when we went to town.  This one began with this statement:  "... the legendary bagelry that has become a Charlottesville institution ..."  Anybody living here would know this is Bodo's Bagels, but there was also an address and photo in the listing since there are several locations.

The directions on where to find it were:  "Pull into the parking lot and park in the last spot on the right facing the fence. As you step out of you driver's seat take notice of the double trunk tree in front of you at the edge of the woods just a few steps ahead. At the base of that tree, nestled in the ivy behind it, you will find a box dedicated to the two most important women in my life."

Here's another site that has a directory of places.  Some will be duplicates of Atlas Quest, but you may find some that are not listed on Atlas Quest.

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 Young Blue Jay Still Filling in Natural Coloring 
More Blue Jay Photos
We've still got plenty of young birds around.  Another batch of Cardinals, five young Grackles, Red-headed Woodpeckers that don't get a red head until they're adults, and some Blue Jays that are still getting their full markings in.  The young ones are so curious and sometimes a bit too brave.

We'll soon be seeing the Ruby-crowned Kinglets coming through on migration. They were all over our pyracantha bushes the year we had cottony scale.  Check out the picture of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet eating cottony scale.  Sure don't like thinking of migration since that means winter isn't far off.

We've had a lot of baby skinks also.  The species we have is the Five-Lined Skink.  The young ones have a bright blue tail and black shiny back with five (5) lines on it.  The adults don't look anything like the young ones.  They turn brown with the stripes barely noticeable.  When the males are mating, their heads are bright orange.

We love our lizards and I enjoy watching them sunbath in various places around the property.  One of them being on top of a concrete pig that sits right outside the screened porch where my chaise is.  I don't know if there's more than one that uses this perch position to survey the land beyond for bugs but I enjoy seeing them there.  They watch for movement and then dart out so fast to get it. 

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Eastern Fence Lizard Shedding Skin
More Lizard Photos

One day as we were eating lunch I noticed an Eastern Fence Lizard on the deck that looked rather strange.  I got the binoculars so I could look without getting closer and saw that it was shedding an old skin for a new one that had grown underneath it.

Snakes do this also since they grow and their bodies need a new "shell" to hold that growth.  This one looked pretty embarrassed when I went out to the deck to take some photos.  It looks like a female since they are gray with black markings, whereas the males are more brown with brilliant blue-green markings on the size behind the front legs.

Here's some good news for zoos:  Bjarke Ingels’s ‘zootopia’ reverses the role of captor and captive to let animals roam free, while humans are hidden from view.  His plan for the Givskud “Zootopia”, a 1960s zoological park in southern Denmark, is a world where animals roam free, liberated from cages and tanks, while visitors observe them hidden from view, buried beneath the ground or obscured inside piles of logs.

A 300-acre stage set wilderness in which the roaming  beasts should never even know you are there, carefully concealed behind the scenes.  How awesome is that?  I'm not able to find much good about zoos.  I know they keep animals from going extinct, but then they also have all the rest of the animals living in such unnatural environments.  It's so sad to see how many live on concrete.  You can see the sadness in their eyes.  Read more about Denmark's Cage-free Zoo.

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Squeek, Our Kitty - 18 Years Old
More Digital Photos of Our Cats
Photos of Our Cats Before Digital Camera
Many of you have asked now and then how our cat, Squeek, is doing.  Years back she went through a 21-day period where she wouldn't eat so I had to get water in her with a syringe and food in her by putting it on a knife and scraping it off on her tongue.  Fortunately she would swallow and she took the many herbal formulas in capsule that I was stuffing down her.  She's a gentle kitty and a really good cat.  Although the vet said she would die if I took her off the IV she had her on to bring her home, she lived.  It didn't matter to me because having her die in a lonely cage in a vet's office is certainly not what I'd call a great alternative.

Squeek turned 18 in July.  That's real good for an FIV cat (the feline version of HIV in humans).  She's still a playful little kitty.  She loves strings and ropes.  Forget the usual kitty toys.  In this picture she had her eyes on the string that was attached to my pocket camera that you could put around your wrist to make sure you didn't drop it.  She began playing right after I snapped this photo.

We listened to a message by Greg Mohr (Charis Bible College Healing School) this week that was especially encouraging and motivating.  Sometimes we seem to know everything there is to know about a subject in the Bible (healing, provision, peace, forgiveness) and yet it's only knowledge in our minds, facts we've logged away.  If it's not been implanted in our hearts, we cannot operate from those beliefs.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23:

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."  (KJV)

"Above all else guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it."  (NIV)
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  (NLT)

The heart is where our spirit and soul rest and as we know when we accept Jesus as Lord His spirit is downloaded into our spirit and we have access to everything that Jesus has promised ... BUT! our soul (mind, will and emotions) still have their own agenda/memories. They have to be "renewed" to line up with the spirit.  We were made to live out of our spirits and to communicate with God from our spirits, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus is always willing to heal and help us ... He is the same today, yesterday and forever and in Matthew 8:2-3 He told a man with leprosy that He was willing to heal him.  The man had knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  And Jesus was willing as He always is.  We just need to be willing to receive what has already been deposited in our spirit account.  

God says we already have it since Christ died for these promises and He's not going to go back to the Cross again for each person. So, it's not a matter of asking God to heal you ... it's a matter of believing that He's already done all that He has promised you in the Word.  

The "faith movement" has been under attack for a long time with people speaking words from the Bible thinking that the more they say it the sooner it will come to pass.  Saying it's so, when it isn't so, doesn't make it so.  We have to believe in our hearts.  That's where meditating on the Word comes in.  We do that to renew our minds and get what we "know" into our actual "knower" (heart) that rules our lives.

Well, I began to tell you about Greg's message, What Are You Submitting To? ... it's a great one.  I think you should watch it yourself.  It begins with praise and worship, but if you want to view only his message you can position the bar at the 54:00 minute mark and he will be speaking. The content showing on the page is for his new book ... not the message he's speaking.

I am doing better every week and it's exciting to see what the Word can accomplish.  When this newsletter goes out, we will be near the coast of Virginia for an overnight getaway.  My birthday is this week so I always like "make a memory" gift rather than more stuff.  Lots of trail time, beach boardwalking, visiting a fort, lighthouse and a historical farm with lots of animals.  I'll be taking loads of photos, so you'll be able to see it all in another newsletter.

Spend time with the Lord daily just sitting before Him.  Picture yourself at His throne adoring and praising Him.  If the whole day has gone by and you've not had intimate time with Him ... you can lose some sleep to do so.  After all, haven't you lost sleep to see a good movie?  You can lose a bit of sleep to spend time with the God who created the Universe just for you to enjoy.

Have a blessed time with the Lord this week.

P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
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written by Donna

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© All photos unless otherwise noted are the property of Donna L. Watkins and cannot be displayed without approval. 

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