Training Dogs in Prison Changed This Man’s Life

 

The sponsor of this program, Pawsitive Change in California, sounds like a very successful partnership!

DCG

Easy and tasty 2-ingredient chocolate cake

 

I found this super-easy recipe for a two-ingredient, no-bake chocolate cake.

I tried it, and can testify to how easy it is, and how tasty and rich-chocolaty the cake is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chocolate chips. (I recommend dark chocolate, which is loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Better still, go for either semi-sweet or no sugar. Instead of sugar, which has zero nutritional value and is really, really bad for us, substitute with non-glucose, natural sweeteners like erythritol and stevia.)
  • 1½ cups pumpkin or banana puree. (I used no-sugar pumpkin puree, rich in fiber and beta-carotene.)

Instructions:

  • Grease or line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Microwave the chocolate chips at 1 minute intervals, stirring in between intervals until chips are melted and smooth. (It took me about 4-5 minutes.)
  • Stir in puree until combined.
  • Pour chocolate-puree batter into pan. Smooth top; tap bottom of pan to eliminate bubbles.
  • Refrigerate until set (30-60 minutes).
  • Top with berries or sprinkled powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

~E

Sunday Devotional: The power of prayer

 

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The word advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, a season observed by Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the incarnation and birth of the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, and of His return — His coming — at the end of all things.

In today’s reading from Luke 21, Jesus, once again, warned about the end times, the timing of which, He stated in Mark 13:32, “no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Since no one knows the precise day or hour of the last days, our Lord instructs us to “Be vigilant at all times and pray“. For that matter, in Luke 18:1, Jesus emphasized “the necessity” for us “to pray always without becoming weary.

Being a loving God, what He counsels us to do turns out to be good for us (see “Neuroscience explains why gratitude is good for our health“).

Did you know these benefits of praying? —

  • Regular prayer and meditation has been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an important factor in living longer, reducing stress, coping better with sickness, and staying healthy. (allnurses)
  • When we pray, our heart rate slows down, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular.
  • A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that those who attended religious services at least once a week and prayed at least once a day or studied the Bible frequently were 40% less likely to have high blood pressure. (NCBI)
  • Praying helps patients heal, according to a study by Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. (NBC News)
  • Praying helps people have fewer migraine headaches and an increase in pain tolerance, according to a study by Ken Pargement of Bowling Green State University. (US News and World Report)
  • Praying reduces levels of infidelity and alcohol consumption by helping us maintain self-control, resist temptation and enhance emotional stability, according to a 2013 study by German psychologists at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim. (Daily Mail)

Not only are we told to pray for ourselves, we should also pray for others.

Here are the reasons for intercessory prayer — petitioning God on behalf of and for the benefit of another, even those who have hurt us (“Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” – Matthew 5:44):

  1. Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, is the foremost intercessor:
    1. On the cross, “he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
    2. Since His return to heaven, He has been continually occupied with His ministry of intercession: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25); “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
  2. When we are baptized, we are gifted with the infusion of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead, who also intercedes for us! “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26).
  3. Studies found that intercessory prayer really works:
    1. In 1988 and 1999, randomized controlled trials of remote intercessory prayer (praying for persons unknown) showed a beneficial effect in patients in intensive coronary care units (Southern Medical Journal, July 1988,81(7):826-9; Archives of  Internal Medicine, Oct. 25, 1999; 159(19):2273-8).
    2. In 2000, a systematic review of randomized, placebo controlled trials of distant healing found that 57% of the randomized, placebo controlled trials of distant healing showed a positive treatment effect (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 6, 2000; 32(11):903-10).
    3. In 2001, a double-blind study of 3393 adults hospitalized with a bloodstream infection found that remote intercessory prayer is associated with a shorter hospital stay and shorter duration of fever in those patients even when the intervention is performed 4-10 years after the infection ( Dec. 22, 2001; 323(7327): 1450–1451).

And remember, always, to tell God you love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~E

New research suggests trees can live forever

 

In living creatures, senescence or aging is governed by an internal biological clock.

But according to new research by two dendrochronologists* — Professors Franco Biondi of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Gianluca Piovesan of the University of Tuscia, Italy — the “cambium,” which is the growth tissue area between a tree’s bark and wood, appears immune to aging.

*Dendrochronologists date events, environmental change and archaeological artifacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks.

Theoretically then, trees can live forever in that they are not subject to genetically programmed age deterioration, but rather are killed by an external agent, such as human logging and diseases (bacteria, viruses, fungi), or by a disturbance event, such as a wildfire or drought.

Photo credit: Jarmila Pittermann

Giant sequoias are the third longest-lived tree species with one of the oldest known specimens to have been at least 3,220 years old in the Converse Basin Grove of Giant Sequoia National Monument in the Sierra Nevada of California.

As reported by Mike Wolterbeek for Nevada Today, November 15, 2021, Biondi and Piovesan’s findings are published in the August edition of New Phytologist.

Biondi says capacity to exceed 2,000 years of age has been demonstrated for six types of conifer trees, including types of juniper, sequoia, cypress and pine.

~E

Dog plays with spirit dog

 

Do animals have souls?

This video seems to point to their having souls.

Jake DeMarco, 38, was stunned when footage from his home security camera showed what appeared to be a ghostly white dog running around with his pooch, Ryder.

DeMarco says his yard is fully secured by a locked, tall fence which would make it impossible for another dog to get inside.

Seconds after watching the video, DeMarco sprinted outside but the white dog had disappeared.

H/t PawMyGosh

~E

Neuroscience explains why gratitude is good for our health

 

Today is Thanksgiving, a day that was founded as an explicitly Christian holiday to thank God for the many blessings He’s bestowed on America.

Have you noticed that what God counsels us to do is good for us?

Take gratitude as an example.

Being thankful benefits us in at least seven scientifically-proven ways:

(1) Gratitude is good for our physical healthGrateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health — they exercise more often and are more likely to get regular check-ups.

(2) Gratitude is good for our psychological health: Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, found that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression.

(3) Gratitude reduces stress and makes us more resilient: For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma by making us more resilient:

  • A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – also fosters resilience, enabling you to better withstand trauma and stress. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the 9/11 attacks.

(4) Grateful people sleep better: Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed helps you sleep better and longer.

(5) Gratitude opens the door to friendship: Showing appreciation to other people can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.

(6) Gratitude improves self-esteem:

  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance.
  • Other studies have shown that gratitude makes us better able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, and reduces the toxic social comparisons that makes us resentful toward people who seem to have more — money, beauty, better jobs, better health, more friends — than we have.

(7) Gratitude is good for society by enhancing empathy and reducing aggression: Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were sensitive and empathic toward other people; less vengeful; and less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.

And now, we know how and why being thankful is good for us, from neuroscience.

Glenn Fox writes for Greater Good Magazine that “New research is exploring the brain regions linked to gratitude—and it helps explain gratitude’s many benefits”:

Gratitude is celebrated throughout philosophy and religion; recent scientific studies suggest it carries significant benefits for our mental and physical health. But very little is known about what actually happens in our brain and body when we experience it….

Since I’m a neuroscientist…I thought that understanding what happens in the brain when we feel gratitude could tell us more about the mind-body connection—namely, how feeling positive emotion can improve bodily functions….

[O]ur [research] results revealed that when participants reported those grateful feelings, their brains showed activity in a set of regions located in the medial pre-frontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes of the brain where the two hemispheres meet. This area of the brain is associated with understanding other people’s perspectives, empathy, and feelings of relief. This is also an area of the brain that is massively connected to the systems in the body and brain that regulate emotion and support the process of stress relief.

The regions associated with gratitude are part of the neural networks that light up when we socialize and experience pleasure. These regions are also heavily connected to the parts of the brain that control basic emotion regulation, such as heart rate and arousal levels, and are associated with stress relief and thus pain reduction.

In other words, our data suggest that because gratitude relies on the brain networks associated with social bonding and stress relief, this may explain in part how grateful feelings lead to health benefits over time. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the subsequent benefits of lowered stress to wash over us. (We recently published a scientific paper elaborating on these ideas.)

Perhaps even more encouraging, researcher Prathik Kini and colleagues at Indiana University performed a subsequent study examining how practicing gratitude can alter brain function in depressed individuals. They found evidence that gratitude may induce structural changes in the very same parts of the brain that we found active in our experiment. Such a result, in complement to our own, tells a story of how the mental practice of gratitude may even be able to change and re-wire the brain. (For more on Kini’s research, read this Greater Good article by his co-authors Joel Wong and Joshua Brown.)

To conclude, neuroscience shows that being thankful is good us by regulating heart rate, lowering stress, reducing pain, and combat depression by altering brain function.

God is good!

1 Thessalonians 5:18

In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

~E

The true meaning of Thanksgiving: A Christian holiday to thank God

 

Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved holidays in America.

But in the hands of “progressives,” public schools and the Hate America Media (HAM), Thanksgiving has long become yet another occasion for white guilt.

But did you know that unlike other secular holidays like Labor Day or the Fourth of July, the Thanksgiving that you think is a secular holiday is actually a national holiday that is explicitly religious in nature?

As shown in the quotes below, Thanksgiving was instituted as a day to thank God for the many blessings He had bestowed on America.

George Washington prays at Valley Forge, winter of 1777-1778 (painting by Arnold Friberg)

In 1789, in his first year in office, President George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving because —

“it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

In 1815, President James Madison issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness.” After Madison, however, Thanksgiving reverted to a regional celebration in New England for 48 years.

In a proclamation in the midst of the Civil War on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official national holiday. Here is the full text of his proclamation:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Body and Soul takes this occasion to thank our readers for their loyalty in spite of all the malicious efforts to silence us, the latest, a hack.

As the owner of Body and Soul , I also want to take this occasion to thank our writers DCG and Grif, who give so selflessly of their labor, time and talent, without a single penny in remuneration.

But most of all, I thank the magnificent and magnanimous Triune Godhead for the many blessings He’s given America, in spite of our many sins and failings, sheer perversities and ever-rising evil. 2021 has been a trying year — of a president with dementia, rising inflation, and the persistent efforts of government to tyrannize us on the COVID-19 “pandemic” and vaccination. Despite all that, we must take heart as there are still so many good things in America. Keep the faith!

Psalm 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord, with gladness;
come before Him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord, is God,
He made us, we belong to Him,
we are His people, the flock He shepherds.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name;
good indeed is the Lord,
His mercy endures forever,
His faithfulness lasts through every generation.

On this Thanksgiving Day, what do you thank the Creator for?

God bless you, and may God bless America,

~E

Someone hacked our Body and Soul blog

 

Eight months ago last February, I put Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM) in hibernation and moved us to a politically “safer” blog, Body and Soul, which would provide a home for our community of like minds until a time when we can return to FOTM.

Innocuous though Body and Soul is, our enemies still managed to hunt us down.

On Monday, Nov. 21, I tried to log into Body and Soul as the administrator, but was told my password was wrong. So I created a new password and was able to log in.

Then, I found out the reason when I received this email from Body and Soul‘s server, GoDaddy:

On November 17, we identified suspicious activity in our WordPress hosting environment and immediately began an investigation with the help of a third-party IT forensics firm and have contacted law enforcement. Our investigation is ongoing, but we have determined that, on or about September 6, 2021, an unauthorized third party gained access to certain authentication information for administrative services, specifically, the customer number and email address associated with your account; your WordPress Admin login set at inception; and your sFTP and database usernames and passwords. What this means is the unauthorized party could have obtained the ability to access your Managed WordPress service and make changes to it, including to alter your website and the content stored on it. The exposure of your email address may also present a heightened risk of phishing attacks.

We are taking several steps to protect you and your data. First, we have blocked the unauthorized third party from our systems. Second, we have reset your WordPress Admin login credentials, sFTP password and your database password. Your website is still up and running, but you won’t be able to edit content until you set new passwords.

Like their master the Devil, our political enemies are relentless.

What sad times we live in…..

~E

Wednesday Funnies…Pre-Thanksgiving Edition!

 

DCG

Police honor 9-year-old girl who helped fight off mom’s attacker

 

Quite the brave little girl!

DCG