Friday, January 30, 2015

A Heart Awakening

By Dr. Jim Richards, Impact Ministries

Of all the factors that can consistently affect our life negatively there is probably nothing more devastating than what the Bible calls a “broken” heart. Because the heart is the seat of who we are it affects every aspect of our life. It is the source of all abiding emotions, good or bad. From the heart emerge all of life’s boundaries; it is the source of understanding and misunderstanding; the heart determines the quality of our physical health.

All of these aspects of our life can be distorted and skewed by a broken heart.  But most importantly, it is the place where God speaks to us. All of these aspects of our life can be distorted and skewed by a broken heart.  

In other words, every sense of limitation we experience flows out of our heart. We can spend our entire life focusing on problems and limitations that we perceive to be outside influences when, in reality, these limitations are based on what I believe about myself in my heart!

But most importantly, it is the place where God speaks to us. All of these aspects of our life can be distorted and skewed by a broken heart.  

Listen to 4 free audio messages on this topic at SoundCloud.
View 4 half-hour videos on this topic at Vimeo.
Read the entire article about this topic on Dr. Richards' website.
Get the 10 CD album of this message at Dr. Richards' website.

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Copyright and Reprint Information - All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, Articles written by Donna L. Watkins may also be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website,

What Happens While You're Asleep

by Angela Epstein, Daily Mail Online 

We spend about one-third of our lives asleep. But far from being wasted time, from the moment we slide into unconsciousness, a whole raft of functions takes place to make sure that we get optimal benefit from our nightly rest.

Sleep is the time the body can undergo repair and detoxification. Poor sleep patterns are linked to poor health - and those who sleep less than six hours a night have a shorter life expectancy than those who sleep for longer. So sleep has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical well-being.

In this article, Daily Mail writer Angela Epstein explains how the body works on when we drift off.  Read the entire article.

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Pets: End of Life Considerations

by Dr. Jane Bicks

While there are many articles on how to determine when it’s time to say goodbye to your pet, there are significantly fewer on how to work with your veterinarian during this trying period.

That’s why Dr. Jane has written an in-depth post on the topic, to help you communicate effectively with your vet when determining the best course of action, both for you and your companion animal. Our readers are sure to appreciate our good doctor’s delicate treatment of this difficult subject.  Read this Dr. Jane post now

Friday, January 23, 2015

Living Life Abundantly

by Donna L. Watkins

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Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with Bee
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens - Richmond, VA
Echinacea purpurea strengthens the immune system
against both bacterial and viral attacks.
"Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:20)

That is one powerful Scripture to meditate on. Too often we just read through the Bible and don't really focus on anything. When something seems to hit your heart while you're reading the Bible, STOP reading further. Take the time to stick with that verse. God wants to show you something, maybe many things, from that one verse. You can spend a month on one verse as God uses it to change us from glory to glory. When we accept Jesus as Savior and turn our lives over to Him, we have every promise given implanted into our spirit. "As He is, so are we in this world" (I John 4:17).

Notice the last portion of Ephesians 3:20 above. Many times we only quote the first part of it ... but the manifestation of that is 'according to the power that works in us'. We have all we need inside of us but we have to believe it to receive it. Jesus said, "Only believe" many times and also shared that He could not do any mighty works in His home town because of the unbelief there (Matt. 13:58).

Remember the story of Jairus that came to Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus delayed his walk to the man's house when the woman with the issue of blood touched His garment. By the time they were ready to move on, Jairus' servants came to tell him she had died. What did Jesus say? "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole" (Luke 8:50). Jesus gave him the qualifications for his daughter to be healed. He needed to fear not and believe and then she would be made whole.

Then when they arrived at the house, Jesus had everybody leave and only allowed 3 of His disciples to enter with the parents. Why? The crowds were mourning and jeering when Jesus said she wasn't dead, but only slept. All of that unbelief would surely affect the parents who needed to believe to have this happen. Peter, James and John were the "inner circle" of the disciples. They were the 3 disciples with Jesus on the mountain with the transfiguration, which means the other 9 disciples were the ones who couldn't get the epileptic boy healed that the father brought to them while Jesus was on the mountain.

You don't magically have life turn around when you get saved. It's how much you put into the relationship that makes things change. I have a box with 52 Scripture cards in it (52 Weeks to a Positive Life) and on the back there are comments by Norman Vincent Peale about the verse. The comments on the opening verse above are powerful, but you will notice it takes our active participation and belief to have things manifest into the physical realm from the spiritual that has been placed inside us at salvation.

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Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis 'Green Joe')
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, VA
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"Today, remind yourself that nothing is too good to be true. Your great hopes can be realized. Your most wonderful dreams can come true. All that you really need, you can have. An incredible goodness is operating on your behalf. If you are living a paltry life, resolve to stop it today. Expect great things to happen. Confidently receive God's abundant blessings. Do not think lack. Instead think prosperity, abundance, the best of everything. God wants to give to you, His child, every good thing. Don't hinder His generosity." -- Norman Vincent Peale

If you've not been spending time to know who God truly is, this won't happen instantly. The belief that's being talked about is in our hearts, not our heads. We can believe facts and information, but if our heart has been programmed from many years of disbelief or a different view of who God is, then it will take time to renew our minds so it can become our heart's belief also.

Consider this story from The Biology of Belief. One conservative, health-conscious New Englander, Claire Sylvia, was astonished when she developed a taste for beer, chicken nuggets and motorcycles after her heart-lung transplant. Sylvia talked to the donor's family and found she had the heart of an 18-year-old motorcycle enthusiast who loved chicken nuggets and beer. In her book, A Change of Heart, Sylvia outlines her personal transformational experiences, as well as similar experiences of other patients in her transplant support group.

One young girl began having nightmares of murder after her heart transplant. Her dreams were so vivid that they led to the capture of the murderer who killed her donor. Paul P. Pearsall presents a number of other such stories in his book, The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy

The accuracy of memories that accompany these transplants is beyond chance or coincidence. Our hearts have neurons, just like the brain so that means it has memory.  It's said all of our emotions are stored in the heart from conception till death.  Every moment of our life has shaped and molded what we believe in our hearts.

God loves us so much that He left Heaven to become a man so that He could die to cover our sins. What the Law could not do, Christ did for us. Jesus said that if you had seen Him (Jesus), you have seen the Father, for He does nothing other than what the Father says and does. The Old Testament Law didn't take sin away. They had to sacrifice the blood of animals each year, but Christ's blood has taken away ALL sin in this world.

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

It is finished. Even unbelievers sins have been atoned for. They won't go to Hell because of their sin, but because they didn't take the salvation offered them in Jesus.

So why do we have such a difficult time living an abundant life? We are raised with a performance-based mentality. From toddler age we are being rewarded for being "good" and disciplined for being "bad." It continues through school in grades and sports, and certainly continues into the marketplace when we work. Even relationships are based on "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

All of that programming leaves us with a heart belief that we have to do something to earn God's attention or blessings. It's already been done with Christ. How could man ever do anything that would match Christ's sacrifice? The Doing Mentality is what keeps us from understanding GRACE. Do a word study on that. Read every verse in the Bible about grace and renovate your mind so you can receive and live in all of God's blessings here on earth. That's what Jesus said He died to give you .... life abundantly.

Related Articles:
Renovate Your Mind
Changing Our Thought Patterns

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God, Quantum Physics & The Brain

by Dr. Caroline Leaf
There is growing evidence that biological systems operate at the level of Quantum Physics.

The Quantum Zeno effect has been described within the Science of Quantum Physics.

When applied to Neuroscience, the Quantum Zeno effect implies that the Brain becomes what you focus on. Focus is directed attention and is a function of the Mind. Thus, Quantum Physics supports the notion of Mind over Matter.

Watch Dr. Leaf speaking on this topic.

Dr Leaf has more more information on Quantum Physics and the Mind in her latest book Switch On Your Brain.

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Trace Minerals are Essential to Optimal Health

by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)

Many people recognize the need to supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals, but are not aware of the vital importance of trace minerals. Multivitamins usually supply some minerals, but not all of the minerals the body needs. So, you still may be deficient in various trace minerals, even with a multi.

I believe that trace mineral deficiencies are as widespread as vitamin deficiencies, if not more so. This is because fungus and bacteria in the soil are what make minerals available to plants and the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides is destroying the microflora of the soil. This has caused the trace mineral content of foods to drop dramatically over the past century.

Besides getting minerals from food, you can also get minerals from water. Since ancient times, springs with mineral-rich water have been revered as sacred healing places. When a Southern Utah rancher investigated one of these mineral springs he found that the water from the spring passed through a special kind of clay called montmorillonite that was part of an ancient sea bed. As water passed through the clay it picked up numerous trace minerals, dissolving them in a colloidal suspension.

The rancher started mining the clay and leeching the water to produce a concentrated mineral water which is typically called colloidal minerals and a whole industry has sprung up creating this mineral rich water. I've taken colloidal minerals many times in my life and have used both montmorillonite and colloidal minerals in my garden (see note below). Montmorillonite has randomly-occurring amounts of about 70 trace minerals

I strongly believe in the value of colloidal minerals for improving general health as well as specifically creating healthier bones, joints, fingernails, hair, teeth and connective tissues. I also believe colloidal minerals can enhance immunity and liver detoxification. I put an article at called Mind Your Minerals several years ago, which I just updated. It explains more about why I believe trace mineral supplements are necessary due to modern agricultural practices.

Colloidal minerals are one of the seven basic supplements I consider to be a form of nutritional health insurance. These seven basic supplements are one of the nine lessons in my Fundamentals of Natural Healing class.

Nature's Sunshine has three trace mineral supplements. They are Trace Mineral Maintenance, Ionic Minerals with Acai and Chinese Mineral Chi tonic. Trace Mineral Maintenance is simply tablets of montmorillonite clay. The clay itself can absorb heavy metals and has a healing effect on the gut. The tablets can be crushed and mixed with food for pets and can be very beneficial for animals as well. You can also find articles online about both Ionic Minerals with Acai and Chinese Mineral Chi Tonic.

Lastly, I mentioned that I use colloidal minerals in my garden. I don't use Nature's Sunshine formulas because I think they're too expensive to waste on a garden, so I just buy a cheap brand from the health food store. I make a spray using one ounce of colloidal mineral per gallon of water. I also add 3-4 drops of Sunshine Concentrate (because it makes water "wetter" so I believe it helps the plants absorb the minerals) and 1 teaspoon Nature's Fresh.

I also use one Tablespoon of kelp emulsion (which is also rich in minerals). Because my soil is deficient in calcium, I also leech eggshells in 50% water and 50% white vinegar to add to the spray. When I don't have eggshells I dissolve a little Nature's Sea Calcium in vinegar and add that to the spray.

I spray this mineral-rich liquid on the leaves of the plants in my vegetable garden. They produce much better yields from this and are healthier in general. Since we are composed of the dust of the earth, which plants lift into living matter, I believe that getting a higher mineral content into the foods we eat is a great way to improve health.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System


It’s flu season, and even if you don’t fall ill like Piers Morgan after publicly receiving a flu shot from Dr. Oz, you still run the risk of getting sick. Particularly in the colder months, when we are sitting inside more often, our houses are closed up, and we stay in close quarters—it’s the perfect time for illness to thrive.

But, when you take precautions to keep your immune system running on high, you can skip the tissues and even natural cold remedies, and coast through winter without a second thought. Here's an article with some tips: are 5 ways to supercharge and strengthen your immune system.  5 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don't Give Up Hope

by Donna L. Watkins

When I spend time in my journal re-reading and reading Scripture cards, I feel full of faith and confidence of the Truth that I am healed, but my heart/belief is not yet persuaded, so when I get challenged by a physical symptom or thought of how awful it was not long ago ... and could I go back there ... that's when I repeat and stand on the Truth that I'm healed.

However, before my mouth is finished saying what I think is persuading my heart, my mind is busy and challenged to add more unbelief to it because I don't see anything that's changed right then and there. I definitely don't need any more unbelief, but I am a visual person. I would easily fit into the saying, "Seeing is believing." I've considered that to be a detriment in easily renewing my mind.

Wall Words:  HOPE
View at
Before I could even ask the Lord about this, I looked up at my HOPE wall word and my favorite definition came instantly to mind that I've been quoting for months.

"Hope is confident expectation
becoming your reality."

But this time I used the word 'my' instead of 'your' and realized that quoting the Bible Truth, "I am healed by the stripes of Jesus" can be a fact in my mind, but my heart does not agree. I needed another way in. A back door that I could put faith behind and this was it!

I had the visual (seeing is believing) before me with the wall word and had already been changing my mind on expecting good from God. What we expect is the world we create for ourselves. That made me realize that God was stepping me through this progressive healing as I drew near to Him. He spoke Trust and Rest to me for over a year before I even began to think I could trust Him. Initially I thought I did, so the shock of when He revealed I didn't took time to ponder since I had to see what trust meant.

I've always been very self-reliant so it wasn't a realm I was familiar with. Just months ago He told me the focus was changing to know more about His love for me and that I should meditate on and focus on expecting good from my Heavenly Daddy - my Abba as the Bible calls Him which translates to Daddy. I've been doing that during the day when I catch myself not expecting good.

Tune into your thoughts and words you speak and you will be surprised that your heart/belief will come out and not agree with what you think is true in your mind, just like mine did on the trust issue. As I looked at HOPE on the wall and thought about the definition, I realized that my heart could grasp that and carry me through to complete healing because I already have a growing list of improvements that can't be denied.

I could see them and believe that, but when I used the word "healed" as I would from Scripture, the picture of healed wasn't before me and my analytical and busy mind was sucking up the unbelief of the whole thing which challenged and negated my attempts to persuade my heart otherwise.

If you are dealing with long-term diseases like I am (25-50 years), it's going to take more renewal of the mind and a gradual healing is okay. It's what most people get due to how we think of ourselves. A long-term disease becomes a part of who you are because you're not able to be the real you that God created and that you remember being. If you were born with health issues like me, you may have never had good health to remember.

"Yes! I do have a confident expectation of being
healed, whole and divinely healthy becoming my reality."

Carpenter Bee Drinking Nectar
From Obedient Plant
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The body was designed to heal. Our cells are being continually replaced with new ones, but if they contain the same DNA they are not capable of healing. It's when we change our thoughts and beliefs that we change our DNA.

"Research shows that DNA actually changes shape according to our thoughts. As you think those negative thoughts about the week ahead that hasn’t happened yet, or that person who hasn’t actually said or done anything yet, the toxic thinking has changed your brain wiring in a negative direction and thrown your mind and body into stress." -- Dr. Caroline Leaf

[Read: 75-98% of Mental & Physical Illnesses Come From Thought Life]

God is faithful. He won't interfere with our freewill but He'll guide us to where we need to go if we place ourselves before Him to worship, adore and receive all He has to give us. The more we see and receive His love, the more the promises of the Bible come alive in the physical realm. When we expect God to be good, we get good.

For a very long time I thought it was all about understanding the spiritual truths for it to come to pass in the physical, but I heard a video message called "Renovate Your Mind" where it was said it's not about understanding how these spiritual mysteries work because our finite minds can't grasp this ... it's about relationship and spending time with Him until we know His love and goodness and it brings out all the promises of God that He already placed within us.

Don't give up HOPE!

"Placebos trigger biochemical changes in the body only if the patient believes in it. This confirms the capacity of the human body to transform HOPE into tangible and essential biochemical change. Illness is always interaction between mind and body." -- Norman Cousins

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Human and Pet Vaccines: Absolutely Necessary?

By Marie Cargill

Some people believe that everybody should be required to have vaccines. Others believe they are unsafe and have serious reservations due to the list of known adverse reactions. Why the controversy?

One of the chief reasons is the use of a pharmaceutical compound called Thimerosol, which contains about 50% mercury. Thimerosol is both water and fat soluble and when injected it can penetrate any and every part of the body including the brain, and can bypass the natural defense mechanisms that work to bind and expel toxin metals like mercury.

Thimerosol is too toxic to be applied to the skin, yet is still being used as a preservative in vaccines.  Read the entire article.

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Adult Children of Gay Parents Testify Against Same-Sex Marriage

"When we institutionalize same-sex marriage... we move from permitting citizens the freedom to live as they choose, to promoting same-sex headed households. Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child will always be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent. Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires." -Katy Faust

As the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considers whether to strike down laws in three states banning same-sex "marriage," four adult children of homosexual parents have filed court briefings arguing that government-sanctioned homosexual unions could lead to disaster for thousands of kids.  Read the entire article.

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The Heart a Treasure

The Heart a Treasure
by Cecil Paxton

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJV) - “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

In Luke’s gospel one of the descriptions of the heart is called a treasure. A treasure can be defined as a storehouse where one would store something or a secret chamber where something is hidden away from public view or even a closet. But metaphorically it is the storehouse of the mind, where the thoughts, feelings or counsels are laid up. What we put our conscience thoughts upon has the potential of being stored in the heart of a person both to the good or our detriment.

The condition of the heart is determined by what is stored or treasured. In Romans 8:6 we are told that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Being carnal is evil in the context of putting the thoughts of the mind upon fleshly lust of this natural life resulting in, as Romans 8:2 says, connecting us to the law of sin and death which connects us to this natural realm as our heart becomes established in the beliefs in self.

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death so that we can choose life instead of death. Connecting inwardly to the Spirit of life in Christ depends on what we have been treasuring in our heart as a heart full of evil carnality can harden us making us insensitive to God’s presence as our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So what we have been purposely putting in will determine under the pressure of life what comes out. In Proverbs 27:19 it says “as water reflects a man’s face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” How we are establishing our heart will determine the filter of how we see life. Some people because of the condition of their heart can see the bad easier than seeing the good. It is as if they expect bad even though they don’t want bad but want good. Even when they are experiencing good in life deep within their heart there is a fear that the good won’t stay and that the bad could come back at any moment.

In Mark 4:23-25 Jesus said, if any man has ears to hear let him hear with perception unto understanding. And He said, be careful what you are hearing. The measure of thinking and study you give to what you hear will be the measure of knowledge that comes back to you and more will be given to you who truly hear. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has nothing, even what he thinks he has will be taken away by life’s challenges.

In Luke 6:45 it says, a man that is already good, a man that can see good because his heart is established in an expectation of good, will choose to treasure good in his heart. This has nothing to do with your righteousness as your righteousness is established in Christ, not in your performance of good and bad. But the choices you make concerning what you treasure in your heart are what you choose.

A good man sees the benefit of treasuring good and as it says in Mark 4:26, “The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed upon the ground, And then continues sleeping and rising night and day while the seed sprouts and grows and increases he knows not how. The earth produces by itself first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”

Establishing good is a process. Let me encourage you that because of Jesus, good belongs to you. Disown bad and treasure good and reflect the image of who you are in Christ.

Visit Cecil's Website.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 1/15/15

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 1/15/15 
  by Donna L. Watkins  

"I do not worship matter.  I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter, who worked out my salvation through matter ... Because of this I salute all remaining matter with reverence, because God has filled it with His grace and power.  Through it my salvation has come to me."
 -- John of Damascus, On the Divine Images 1:16

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Pine Siskin Eating Thistle
More Pine Siskin Photos
Hello Dear Friends!

Birds - You might miss seeing a new bird in your habitat if you have Pine Siskins visiting.  They are so close in size and coloring of finches that you can miss it.

Pine Siskins can travel in large flocks though and if you have thistle (niger) seed out in those hanging socks, or in a pie plate with a rock as we do on the covered porch, you'll be sure to attract them.  Plus it's one food that the squirrels don't bother. They'll eat millet and hulled sunflower seeds but thistle is their gourmet delight.

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American Goldfinches at Feeder
More American Goldfinch Photos
Pine Siskins and Goldfinches often flock together so you have to look closely to see the difference since the Goldfinches are no longer gold in winter.  The trick to the ID is to look for the sparrow streaks on the breast, the goldfinch-colored wings and the finch-like size and shape, all wrapped up in one small bird.  Add a sharp pointed bill and a bit of yellow on the wing and tail markings (best seen when they fly) and you'll soon instinctively know the difference.

They are winter warriors and store more winter fat than the close relatives.  Another blessing they have from the Creator is that on frigid winter nights their metabolic rate is 40% higher than average songbirds their size.

The flock of Mourning Doves we had for a short time seem to have dispersed. Not all Mourning Doves migrate if there is enough food in an area.  Even ones in Canada remain if they are sustained by feeders.  They usually migrate over land but on rare occasions have been seen flying over the Gulf of Mexico.  Fall migration occurs from September to November, so these were definitely a bit late being near the end of December.  They migrate during the day in flocks and at low altitudes.  I guess they can see the food sources that way.

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Acorn Woodpecker in Santa Rosa Plateau Reserve
Album of Santa Rosa Plateau Reserve - Calif.
If you live in the southwestern states or along the west coast, you may be used to seeing Acorn Woodpeckers.  We don't get them here and from what I've been reading I should be pretty happy about that since they cache holes in trees to store acorns.  The only problem is that they sometimes use houses if the area doesn't have the preferred and necessary habitat for storage. 

Tips to discourage these woodpeckers from coming back to drill on the house include filling in and painting over the holes they've made, hanging up something that will make noise when it blows in the breeze, or hanging up long strips of aluminum foil.

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Tree Full of Cached Acorns in Balboa Park
Album of Balboa Park in San Diego, CA

A company called Bird-X sells several products designed to scare birds away from spots like this.  They also have products to control animal, rodent and insect problems.

In February, the Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for February 13-16 this year.  The program was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.  This was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the 4-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. Participate this year.  It's a lot of fun.  You tally the numbers and types of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.  If you’re new to the count, visit this Get Started area of the website.

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Bee on Hosta Flower at Edith J. Carrier
 Arboretum and Gardens
View Album of Edith J. Carrier
Arboretum & Gardens
Gardens - January and February are the hardest months to be without the view of flowers.  Here in Central Virginia nothing is left other than the evergreen bushes and trees.  Not to belittle how much they do for the eyes during a time when all the hardwood trees are bare.

I'd like to fly away to a botanical garden in Florida.  What a lovely time that would be, but not a likely jaunt.  So, my second option is to visit gardens I've been to and have photo albums of.  A virtual garden visit is better than no garden visit.  It does cheer the dreary and rainy days of winter.

Here's a list of garden photo albums if or for when you're in the mood for dreaming of summer:

Brookgreen Gardens - Murrells Inlet, SC
Botanical Garden and Scarecrow Trail - Huntsville, AL
State Botanical Garden of Georgia - Athens, GA
JC Ralston Arboretum - Raleigh, NC
Duke Gardens - Summer - Durham, NC
Duke Gardens - Autumn - Durham, NC
Cypress Gardens - Moncks Corner, SC
Daniel Stowe Gardens - Belmont, NC
North Carolina Botanical Garden - Chapel Hill, NC
Maymont Estate Gardens - Richmond, VA
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens - Richmond, VA

Spiritual Musings - I was studying Romans 6:23 with a new insight and understanding I've gained over the years, but was thinking about how I used to think on this verse, "For the WAGES of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Many years back I used to think that God would punish me for sins and that I had no right to answered prayer since He looked away from me ... in other words basically stopped loving me when I sinned.

Jesus died for the "sins of the world."  1 John 2:2 says, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."  The definition of the word 'propitiation' is this:  "Propitiation, also called expiation, is the act of appeasing or making well disposed a deity, thus incurring divine favor to avoid divine retribution." (Source: Wiki)

Christ died so that we would be able to appease a holy God.  God Himself gave Himself to die for us because He was the only sinless one to be able to take the sins of the world upon Him.  Since sin came into the world by one man, the only way to take it out of the world was through a man.

So if God punishes us or stops loving us for our sins, then it nullifies the sacrifice of Jesus.  It would be like double jeopardy.  God warns us about sin because sin destroys us and brings pain into our life!  Sin is not a list of things that can turn God against us.  Every moment of our life we're in sin since Jesus counted our thoughts as heavily as the actual act (Matt. 5:27-28).

The Bible also says that anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).  So anytime we are anxious we sin.  Nobody stands in faith 24/7 his entire life.  There is no way we could have a relationship with God at all if it was based on us not sinning.

I like the illustration Jim Richards gives about this:  "When a manufacturer puts a warning on a product that says it will be fatal if swallowed, it does not mean that the manufacturer will kill us if we eat it. It means that the product has the power within itself to be fatal. God warned us about the effects of sin because He loves us. God doesn’t hurt us because we sin, sin hurts us."

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Mockingbird in Holly Tree
View Album of Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
View More Mockingbird Photos
It's the natural law of sowing and reaping.  Galatians 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature FROM THAT NATURE will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."

Notice it says "FROM THAT NATURE" he will reap destruction.  It doesn't say from God.  If you plant wheat, you will get food.  If you plant sin, you will reap pain and destruction.  It's our choice what we plant in the soil of our lives. I need to base my beliefs about who I am and what I can do on what the Word of God says.  My own opinions, and those derived from wrong teaching before we added discernment to our Bible study, shouldn't direct our lives.

What God says is what we should be living by.  It's worth studying to "show ourself approved" on this topic and any other.  I'm incredibly amazed at how many Scriptures I had logged away without thought or study on them. With online Greek and Hebrew concordances, we have no excuse to not study the Scriptures for ourself.

It seems that most preachers preach about God through the way they see Him. If their heart was broken from an event in their lives and they see God as not having come through for them, then they will preach God with that facet applied to Him.  We are the sum total of all that we believe in our hearts, which is why God told us to renew our minds and take thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (in other words, make your thoughts line up with the Word of God).

If we think God is out to get us, we won't be able to believe God is for us.  However, there are many Christians that don't let what the Bible says change their opinion, and that's a sad state of affairs.  When you try to live life without the instruction manual that you're given on how to live it abundantly and fully, then we will break down in many areas of our lives.  God's way is the only way that works because He designed it all.

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Sculpture: Brothers (Civil War)
View Album of Richmond's Capitol Square
Travel Virginia - We're only 90 minutes from downtown Richmond so it's a nice town to do day trips.  Since it's cold here in Virginia, I wanted to do something indoors.  So, we visited The Center for Architecture which is housed in a beautiful Tudor-Revival home built in 1916-1919.  If you didn't see the house photos with the link in the last newsletter, here's the link to the beginning of the album:  View "The House That Branch Built" Photos.

At the end of the house photos, there are photos of the 2014 annual exhibition of award-winning architectural work from the mid-Atlantic region.  These were the finest examples of architecture, interior design and preservation projects.  It was pretty interesting to see what architectural styles are winning awards these days.  View 2014 Architectural Awards Photos.

The home is on Monument Avenue which has a lot of historic homes, so I took photos of some of the surrounding homes and Jefferson Davis monument.  View Monument Avenue Photos.

Benjamin Feeding Squirrel From a Lid
We also visited Capitol Square that same day since Richmond is the capital of Virginia.  We used to stop there when we drove from Alabama to Pennsylvania to visit my family just to feed the squirrels and pigeons since they were very tame. It was a big delight to me and our son, Benjamin.  Randal simply enjoyed our joy. My great grandfather used to take me to a park that was two blocks away from our home and we did the same thing there sitting on park benches.

Capitol Square had monuments and was surrounded by other beautiful buildings that were interesting and the Governor's Mansion is on the square also.  It was a rather chilly day so we were happy when we got inside the capitol building for our walk-through tour.  View Capitol Square and Capital Building Photos.

Closing Thoughts - What awesome promises are given to us when we ponder, meditate and/or focus on God's Word.  What we focus on is magnified.  If we focus on God's promises about situations, we can see Him magnified and our problem growing smaller.

"My child, pay attention to what I say.  Listen carefully to my words.  Don’t lose sight of them.  Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body."  Proverbs 4:20-22 (NLT)

When we focus on the problem for hours and then spend a few minutes in prayer about it, which one do you think will dominate your life?  Faith is trusting that God will fulfill all of His Word.  We have to "only believe" as Jesus said to receive.  The word 'receive' in Greek means "to reach out and take hold of."  So our faith (trusting and reaching) is what brings the promises to pass.

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Donna at Monticello
 Home of Thomas Jefferson
Charlottesville, VA
View Photos of Monticello
Until next time ..... 

May God Increase Your Blessings Daily,


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