Awww Monday and Sparks: Best Therapist

The best therapist has fur and four legs.
~Unknown

My apologies for last week. I posted early, but because of a business trip, I didn’t get to visit anyone’s Sparks or Awwwwsome photos while on the road. I promise to do better this week.

I think every one of you would agree with the above quote. There’s no therapist like a devoted fur baby cuddled up beside or in our laps to take away the stresses of life. Who else can we tell our deepest, darkest secrets to and not worry about being judged? They rarely try to “fix” problems, opting only to quietly listen to us vent, cry and whine. There’s no awkward moments of silence where no one knows what to say. They might even try to distract us from our worries by bringing every. single. toy. they. own…with only the good intention of offering to lighten the mood with play.

Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation reports the benefits of a human-animal bond helps reduce anxiety and decrease blood pressure. And, spending time with an animal can enhance positive feelings of well-being. It’s no wonder there’s been a rise in the number of emotional-support animals. The Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work reports that after one week of having an emotional support animal, there is an 82% reduction of the symptoms of PTSD.

So, perhaps all this world needs is for everyone to cuddle up and talk with a fur baby….whether it be a dog, cat, horse, rabbit, ferret, llama or a hamster!

Blog hopping today with Anne’s Sparks and Sandee’s Awww….Monday. I guarantee the linked posts will bring a smile to your face and inspiration to your week.

  

 

 

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March Photo Challenge: Five

This month’s photo blogging challenge, hosted by PJ at A-lil Hoohaa, marks the fifth year for the challenge. That’s quite a milestone in the blogosphere. It takes a lot of dedication to coordinate these blog hops. I’m happy he’s still hosting the challenge and appreciate his efforts. So, the photo challenge theme for March is, appropriately, Five.

I took a little different approach to the prompt this month. I know….. you all are shocked, aren’t you? Honestly, you should be used to it by now. 🙂 So, as I was saying…..I took a different approach this month and instead of each photo containing something representing five, I’m taking the prompt as the overarching theme for all my photos. And, I’m calling it…..

Five Elements of Composition in Photography

Of course there are many more than five, but five is all I need today. Personally. I think this is brilliant since this IS a photo challenge.

Element 1/5: Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is very common with a lot of photographers and designers. The frame is divided into nine equal rectangles, three across and three down as seen in my pic below. Instead of placing the objects of attention smack in the middle of the frame, objects are placed long one or more lines where they intersect. In this case, the flowers are concentrated in the left two thirds of the frame.

Element 2/5: Juxtaposition
What a funny word……juxtaposition. It’s explained as including two or more elements that either contrast or complement each other. This helps the photo tell a story. In this story, a sweet friend drew this mini mural at the end of our driveway on the very stressful day when Entrepreneur was to have another set of CT scans done to monitor the renal cell cancer spots in his lungs. The juxtaposition between the beauty and softness of the chalk and the hard reality of the concrete and asphalt tell the story that even in the middle of life’s harsh ugliness, there are reminders of beauty and love. At least it did for me.

Element 3/5: Golden Triangles
Much like the Rule of Thirds, Golden Triangle composition divides the photo with a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner. Two more lines from the remaining corners are drawn to meet the diagonal line at right angles. This divides the frame into triangles to help position elements. This type of composition creates “dynamic tension,” which adds to the interest of the photographed subject.

Element 4/5: Perspective or Viewpoint
Perspective or viewpoint means the relationships between objects in the photo. Objects in the foreground will seem larger than those in the background even though they may be close to the same size. This type of element also refers to the position of the camera. If the shot is taken with the camera low to the ground, you have what’s called a low perspective. And, if the shot is taken higher or above the image, you have what’s called a high perspective. This shot isn’t a great example, but I think you can see where the ultrasound photo in the front appears to be much larger in relation to the newborn and rest of the strip. Well, that’s what I was shooting for anyway.

Element 5/5: Fill the frame
Filling the frame means leaving little or no space around the subject. The focus is directed at the subject without any distractions, and highlights details that would probably be overlooked if the shot was taken from further back.

You may have figured out I did a neighbor’s maternity and newborn shoot this month…only about two weeks apart. To see how others celebrated PJ’s 5-year anniversary for this photo blogging challenge, blog hop on over to HERE on March 31st. What a perfect time to join in the fun as we begin year #6?!

Spark of friendship


A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
~Proverbs 27:9

Last Wednesday, Entrepreneur was scheduled for another set of CT scans to monitor the renal cell cancer spots in his lungs. While many friends are aware of the anxiety that always builds up to these appointments, one friend took their support a bit further.

No one is definitively claiming authorship of the mini mural that appeared at the end of my driveway Wednesday morning, but I have a good idea who the artist is. And, I love her for it. She is truly a sparkly person that dispels darkness wherever she goes.

I purposely didn’t crop out anything out of this photo or “pretty it up” in any way. I think the juxtaposition between the beauty of the chalk drawing and message with the raw reality of the concrete, asphalt and winter scruff makes the point quite well.

Playing along with Sparks and Awww……Monday. Annie’s Sparks philosophy is very simple.

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. There is hope. Together, we can light up the entire world!

 

Sandee’s Awww…..Monday is a simple blog hop where all that’s needed is a photo that makes the viewer say “awwwwwww.” How easy is that?

Spring Spark

Texture by Lisa Gordon, Soft Summer 1; 60% soft light

Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe
that you are willing to let go of struggle
and eager to learn through joy. 

~Sarah Ban Breathnach

A sweet friend gave me these purple daisies. Little rays of lavender sunshine to help brighten up the dreariness of winter, which seems to be over-staying its welcome. We all need friends who are wiling to be rays of sunshine when our world becomes cloudy and overcast.

Blog hopping today with Annie’s Sparks and Sandee’s Awww…..Mondays. Won’t you join us and be lights in this world helping to spread positive energy?

  

An unlikely hero

Last week, while in Branson, we took in a theatre production at Sight and Sound Theatre. The shows are impeccably produced with special effects and talent that is off the charts. This show was about Samson….you know….the Samson of Samson and Delilah…the Samson with the long locks that gave him superhero strength. But, the story of Samson is so much more than that little biblical snippet.

The story of Samson doesn’t get much press in Sunday School. And when it does, his Herculean strength is what is highlighted. He’s not one the bible’s greatest hits like Abraham, Moses or David. Even though David’s life was full of screw ups, he is revered as a Jewish and Christian patriarch. Samson…..well, he could be the poster child for under achievement and a total lack of self-discipline. But his story is filled with redemption and grace even though there’s no happily-ever-after ending.

Born into slavery, Samson is a Hebrew living under Philistines control. The cultures were at odds with the Israelites trying to live to honor God and the Philistines living to worship pagan idols and indulge in anything that strikes their fancy. And, on top of that, God tells Samson’s mom before he’s born that he must follow the Nazarite Vow, which further separates him because he is not allowed to cut his hair, eat grapes, drink wine or touch a dead body. This makes him the object of much ridicule among the Philistines. Oh, and one more thing, God tells mom Samson is going to free the Hebrews from slavery from the Philistines. In return, God blesses him with strength beyond measure.

Samson doesn’t handle any of this very well. He’s called a girl because of his long hair. That is, until a display of super-human strength causes their jaws to drop to the floor. And, from that point on, the Philistine rulers plot everything from murder to turning him into their greatest weapon of mass destruction.

Samson never seems to embrace his calling…only wanting to live under the radar and do the bare minimum to get by. And he has quite the eye for the ladies….specifically beautiful ladies outside of his faith. Despite superhuman, physical strength, Samson battles temptations and enemies both inside and outside his body. By the time he is middle age, even though he is honored as an Israelite judge and rules for 20 years, he is considered uncontrollable and possibly beyond redemption. Hardly the ideal role model.

Enter Delilah, from the valley of Sorek, which in Hebrew means vineyard valley. Perfect. As a woman without a husband or tribe, she is on her own…making her receptive to opportunities for economic freedom. When approached by the Philistine rulers, she agrees to find out the source of Samson’s superpower strength….in return for monetary compensation, of course.

As every good Sunday Schooler knows, Delilah succeeds and Samson’s hair is cut, his his strength leaves, and he is finally captured by the Philistines. His head is shaved and, just for good measure, his captors gouge out his eyes, compounding his vulnerability by making him blind. He’s chained and forced to push a grain grinder in a circle all day, every until……

The Philistine rulers organize a huge celebration to honor their god of fertility, Dagon. And, as with any good party, the adult beverages flow freely. Three thousand Philistines party and praise their gods for delivering their enemy, Samson, to them. And soon Samson is summoned into the temple for their amusement.

Enter Samson. He’s placed between two main pillars of the temple. He’s blind…but no longer bald. As he takes his place between the pillars, he cries out for God’s mercy to restore his strength one last time. Knowing he will die when he brings down the house, he accepts his destiny and embraces his sacrifice with humility. God complies. Prophesy fulfilled.

Points to ponder with this story:
• God is using each of us in ways that may not be obvious to ourselves or others. Samson’s destiny was to free the Israelites from the Philistines. While I’m sure everyone  thought this would be accomplished differently, God’s plan served more than one purpose. The consequences of Samson’s bad decisions placed him in the temple at the perfect time. If he had not been vanquished and captured, the Philistine rulers would not have been destroyed.
• Like with the Nazarite Vow, those who follow God are called to live within their culture, but to live lives separate from things at odds with what God deems as good. Samson didn’t do this well…and, if we’re being honest, neither do we. Our lives are contradictions between how we’re suppose to live and how we actually live.
• Samson’s disobedience resulted in him trudging in circles, pushing a heavy burden. Much like how giving in to temptations can take over, and our lives become a vicious circle of bad decisions.
• Similarly, we can become blind to our sin in today’s anything-goes culture. Many decisions in Samson’s life were made by what his eyes saw at that moment, overpowering better judgement. In the end, although Samson was blind, he could clearly see what he needed to do.
• Samson’s story explains the phenomena of God’s decisions to use tragically flawed people in powerful ways. Despite his anger issues, selfishness, carnal weakness for women, and out-and-out defiance to observe his Nazarite Vow, God did not abandon him. Instead, God came to him when he was the weakest and, in grace, strengthened him to accomplish what God had intended all along.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
~2 Corinthians 12:9

Sparks: Light Bright

The darkness around us might somewhat light up
if we would first practice using the light we have
on the place we are.
~Henry S. Haskins

Last week, Entrepreneur and I took the grand girls to Branson, Missouri. While we were there, we visited……now don’t laugh….Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Definitely an Odditorium. In one of the rooms was a giant Light Bright, and the girls loved it!

When they started playing with the pegs, I thought it would be perfect for Annie’s Sparks. When I saw this quote, I knew they both needed to be paired with each other to reinforce Annie’s Sparks philosophy…which is very simple.

     The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. There is hope. Together, we can light up the entire world!

Blog hopping with Annie at McGuffy’s Reader’s Sparks and Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

Sparks: New Life


it won’t be long now! I did a maternity session for my neighbor last weekend. They have about 7 more days until the adventure begins. New life…always a reason to smile. 🙂

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.