Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday's Thought

Facing The Unchurched

What has become of the church these days? The church often stays within the confines of its tidy walls. Unwilling to move outwards towards the hurting masses of people. And hesitant to let them into the church.

It seems the church has lost its sense of purpose. The reason Jesus came to this broken world.

To heal and save the lost. To bring about a restoration meant to bring man back to him. 

And yet the church seems it would rather belittle and ostracize those that need Jesus the most. The prostitutes, the drug addicts, the alcoholics.

Too often we see these people who need Christ the most, put outside of the church. Unwelcomed and uncared for.

But let's take a look at what Jesus did when he came across sinners. I think his actions were much different than today's church.

Jesus was approached by a sinful woman, most likely a prostitute in Luke 7:36-50. She approached him as he was having dinner with a Pharisee. This woman began to kiss Jesus feet and anoint them with oil.

The Pharisee's response was much like the church's would be today. His thoughts were: "Jesus! Don't you know who's touching you? She's filthy. She's done evil things. You shouldn't let her touch you."

Rather than condemn her for her sins, Jesus said she did something none of the others present had done. She had washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed his feet (with such unclean lips), and perfumed his feet. And then he told her that her sins had been forgiven.

Jesus' reaction to this woman had been one of honor as she'd taken the time to love on and worship him. She knew who he was and she didn't care who she was. She knew she needed to worship Jesus.
Today, realize that Jesus isn't for the clean. He's for the broken. The dirty. The downtrodden.

The well are already healed. The sick still need a doctor.

The next time you head to church would you be willing to invite someone that might have been unwelcomed in the church to attend with you?

About the Author: This is a guest post by Joseph Lalonde. He is a youth leader at Oak Crest Church of God and leadership blogger at Joseph shares leadership tools and encourages you to become a better leader. Connect with him on Twitter or at his blog.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Best Online Photography Courses

When you want to capture life’s moments, you snap a picture. Maybe you’re someone who constantly looks for subjects to put in front of the lens. If you’re looking to get involved in photography professionally, there are some wonderful online courses that will bolster your skills and confidence.

Now keep in mind that each of these courses is offered from different ranges. Some of them are free and some of them are offered at pretty affordable prices. You’ll want to choose classes based on your skill level. Be honest, but trust in your skills. You don’t want to pick a too advanced course and be left in the dust nor do you want to be bored to tears. With these tips, you’ll be able to find the courses just for you.

Better Photo
This one offers over 80 classes on a daily basis, and they all fit each person's skill level. From digital to composition and photo shop, there’s a class available. This one is not offered through live video chat. Instead the instructor for the class will provide instruction and feedback through email. If you are worried about the flexibility of your schedule with this class, don't be. It's offered for a 4 to 8 week period. Now this class isn’t free, but the prices come on a week-to-week basis.

School of Photography
This class is offered at a range of different levels. It offers everything from basic to wedding to landscape. If you’re strictly a beginner, the basic and digital imaging ones are your best bet. For the other classes, you’ll need intermediate knowledge about photography and what you are doing. This one isn’t free, but deals are available if you decide to take multiple classes at once.

The Perfect Picture: School of Photography
This school will break courses down into 4 categories.
  • Beginner/Intermediate
  • Intermediate/Advanced
  • Making money with photography
  • Digital darkroom
Every week the students will download the assignment, and then each student has ten days to complete the assignment. You will upload your assignments back to your professor. After revision, you’ll receive insights and suggestions.

Icon Photography School
There is one class that is offered, and it’s two weeks long. Every day an assignment is due. There are a total of 12 assignments, and it culminates with a final.

Creative Tech
There is a 10 week class offered a few times each year. This class is super limited, so you need to get in your application as soon as possible. There are a variety of different classes you can take, and they are all offered through places such as Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

As you can see there are so many options to choose from and these are just a few of them. Keep taking pictures and start your studies now!

About the Author: Joseph Jimenez writes all about the arts and education. His recent work lists the Top 25 Schools for Online Education Administration and Leadership Degrees.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday's Thought

"Wakefield Fall"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
In Threes…

Prepare your heart, mind, soul, body and spirit
Watch for Satan, be aware, be alert, and be on your guard
Wait on the Lord with great expectation

Stop what you are doing
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
Feel the love of God surround you, fill you

Be still, calm your spirit
Keep silent, quiet your mind
Listen for the voice of God

Read scriptures
Meditate on scriptures
Pray the scriptures

Know God
Sense God
Tune into God

Expect an answer
Anticipate God’s response
Rejoice in answered prayer

(C) Kim Kirby, 2013
Used by Permission, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hedging Solutions to Encourage Wildlife into Your Garden

Hedges that are friendly to wildlife usually have the opposite effect on burglars. Planting hedges and borders designed to attract wood land creatures into your garden requires dense hedgerows and thorny, protected bushes, which are all things that put potential intruders of. But that’s just one of many reasons why you can benefit from wildlife attracting hedges.

Established Hedges
An established hedge is not something to be sniffed at but any well grown hedge can be enhanced with the addition of a selection of flowering plants around the base. Campions, anemones, stitchwort, lords and ladies, wild strawberry, primroses, celandines, and violets will all provide a smattering of spring and early summer whilst attracting a host of interesting insects.

Better Security
According to a recent survey more than 75% of burglars gain entry through a back garden. Thick and thorny boundary hedges like holly, buckthorn, blackthorn, hawthorn, pyracantha and berberis are hard for people to get through but make the ideal home or resting place for a variety of garden wildlife from adder’s to dormice.

Keeping Formal
If a wildlife hedgerow sounds a little bit too ‘wild’ for you, it’s still possible to attract little creatures to your back door whilst keeping things formal. Conifers can make snug roosting spots for birds on winter’s nights and are valuable areas for insects like ladybirds to hibernate. To make your conifer even more attractive to wildlife allow clematis and wild roses to grow in them.

Get Dense
If you’re planning a new hedge then the more densely it grows, the more wildlife it’s likely to attract. When planting, create two rows of bushes around a foot apart to increase density. Don’t be afraid to use hedges to divide your garden into separate areas as well as to denote boundaries.

Catch the Eye
Hedges are so diverse and are an ideal way of adding interest during the different months of the year. For example, some evergreen bushes change colour in autumn and create a spectacular backdrop for a back garden. When planting new hedgerows choose a mixture of different species - blackthorn, guilder rose, spindle, privet, beech, holly, yew, hazel, maple, dogwood and hawthorn will all happily grow together, but it’s best to stick with 3-5 different bushes if you want to avoid your planting getting out of control.

Avoid Edges
Formal gardens need to be practically perfect in order to work and in most cases they need to be within a certain sized space. Most of us don’t have the time or the inclination for perfectly lined lawns and expertly trimmed hedges. You can create 12 month a year variety in your outdoor spaces by losing the straight edged, perfect look. If you've already got a boundary hedge then plant other species around it and create a more natural look. The variety of different plants will create different effects – like red berries in winter, acid bright yellow buds in summer or golden, conker shiny leaves in autumn.

About the Author: Paul King owns Hedging To Your Door, an online retailer of many different types of hedging, including evergreen plants such as Leylandii. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photography 101: Basic Knowledge for Beginners

From shooting photos of your friends, the Grand Canyon, or a New York art exhibit, it's never too late to learn how to become a photographer and call all the shots. If you're interested in learning photography tips and becoming the next Nigel Barker, there are endless suggestions for improving what you capture beyond the lens. While camera type can determine the quality of a photo to some degree (my iPhone won't give me the same photo as my Polaroid), you can develop skills to get the best picture in any situation. Luckily, I've compiled some easy to use tips for beginners that will getting you snapping photos like a pro.

Know Your Camera
First, and most importantly, you should know how to use your camera. I mean, duh, right? Most cameras operate in some point and click format, but you don't want to look silly when you can't snap a basic shot. Play around with your camera. It is fun to know how you can use all your special settings available on your camera. We've come a long way since taking a picture on a piece of film to never be seen again until developed at your local drugstore or Wal-Mart. Learning how to adapt to locations and the weather while taking photos will be learned from knowing how to use your camera properly.

Light the Stage
Always use the right kind of lighting when taking pictures. It stinks to take 50 pictures with shadows and glares of eyes showing because you forgot to use the flash. Lighting is central part of photography considering it illuminates your subject. Without knowing where to position yourself in a sunny park, you could lose a photo. You must know how to position your subject and yourself to get the best picture possible. A fun tip to remember about lighting is that you should never take pictures of your subject with his or her back against the light. You'll end up with a darker photograph than you expected.

Go Ahead and Zoom
Get a closer shot by using your macro mode. Don’t get caught up taking pictures that leave your subject hard to see and distant. You can get closer to your subject without being physically closer by using your macro mode to zoom in. 

Experiment with it when you are shooting tiny objects or trying to focus on details of objects. Unfortunately, as you zoom, it's easier to distort images and make them blur so make sure you get a good focus before shooting pictures. If possible, use a tripod to keep the camera steady as photos are born.

Photos are Everywhere
Always take plenty of pictures when you begin. The perfect shot won't always present itself to you so don't sit still. Remember that you can takes as many photos as your camera can hold and then delete ones that didn't work later. When you are shooting pictures of sports or objects in motion, adjust you camera's setting accordingly and take plenty of photos to avoid blurred images that can ruin great memories. 

Use Your Eyes
Your most important asset in photography is not your camera. It’s not even the lens of the camera. It’s not any piece of equipment you use. It’s your eyes. It's the way you perceive and take your photographs. You can buy the most high tech, expensive camera on the market, but if you don’t take a compelling shot, the picture won’t come out as well as you hoped.

It's easy to learn to take good photographs, and with these basic pointers, you'll be able to use your camera like any other season photographer. So start snapping. It's as easy as point and click.

About the Author: Sue Long writes articles on personal hobbies like photography, scrapbooking, baking, sewing, and online web design schools.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday's Thought

"Flowers In the Garden"
(C) Allen Pearson, 2008
Ask, Seek, Knock...

Ask and it shall be given you…
     Ask for direction, guidance for what to pray, how to pray.

Seek and ye shall find…
     Seek a promise or confirmation from God in His Word that confirms this
     direction of what and how to pray.

     Stand at the throne and boldly knock because you have the confidence that
     this is what and how God wants you to pray.

And the door will be opened…
     The door that opens is the answered prayer.

There are four ways that God might answer your prayer…
     No, not yet;
     No, I love you too much;
     Yes, I thought you’d never ask; and
     Yes, and here’s more.

(C) Kim Kirby, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Firday's Foto - Garden Pespectives - Perspective on A Golden Angel Trumpet

"Perspective on
A Golden Angel Trumpet"

(C) Allen Pearson, 2008
A favorite image that I captured on a trip to the west coast several years ago. The flower is so huge it caught my attention.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday's Thought

"In The Field"
(C) Allen Pearson


Lord, thank you for giving me...
A place to be in Your presence
A place to be still in Your presence
A place to sit in Your presence
A place to be filled with Your presence

(C) Kim Kirby, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Garden Perspectives - Cooper's Ice Plant

"Cooper's Ice Plant"(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
Cooper's Ice Plant has turned into one of my most favorite ground cover perennials.  

A few years ago, I planted several of these in my front garden.  I wanted to add some color to the front section that would bloom after the spring flowers are gone and start before my purple cones flowers did.  These were the perfect choice.  I noticed this season, they've added quite a few color selections, white, yellow, multi-, and orange- to name a few. 

The maintenance has been fairly easy- plant and let it go.  One tip, when plant be sure to pull all the grass and weeds around or near the plant.  Maybe place some newspaper to prevent grass and weeds from growing.  This will make it easier to maintain in the long run. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eye-Catching Yet Low Maintenance Trees for Small Gardens

If you want a truly low maintenance garden that still has plenty of interesting growth then you need to track down a number of low maintenance shrubs and trees. Take pride in your outside spaces without eating into too much of your time by checking out these tips!

1. Magnolia
This tree’s flower is stunning in the springtime and makes a colourful addition to any outdoor space. It looks its best between April and June and prefers to be in partial shade or full sunlight. Magnolia needs well drained, acidic soil to thrive and usually grows best in sheltered areas where the plant won’t be constantly whipped by wind.

2. Juniper
This prehistoric looking plant grows in abundance and looks great in rock gardens or raised beds. It’s ideal for filling out bare patches in your borders and beds and gives a grey-green colour all ear round which grows darker and richer during the summer months. Juniper looks amazing planted against drought tolerant grasses and can create an almost instant ‘grown in’ look.

3. Cherry Tree
There’s nothing quite like cherry blossom for adding a touch of magic to an outside space! This Japanese tree has been ornamenting UK gardens for centuries and snows its soft pink blossoms all around throughout the spring. Cherry Blossoms can grow well in all types of soil provided it’s well drained and can work in shaded, partially shaded or fully exposed areas.

4. Korean Fir
This rather futuristic fur grows blue, upright cones and has bright green under leaves. It’s fairly slow growing but can be purchase at fairly mature size. Korean firs look incredible juxtaposed with ornamental grasses or as a stand out specimen. You can add a touch more Star Trek by illuminating your fir with coloured lights at night.

5. Apple Tree
If you love a Tom and Barbara fantasy then why not start by producing your own apples and work your way up slowly to chickens and goats! Think about your own tastes and the size of garden you have as some apple trees can grow very large.  Red Windsor is easy to grow and also one of the tastiest varieties. A more mature tree can produce apples the first autumn after planting and will thrive in sunny, sheltered areas.

6. Osmanthus
These evergreen bushy shrubs produce tubular fragrant flowers and grow quickly and densely. They work particularly well on sloping ground or in wild gardens or woodland. The shrub looks its best between sprint and autumn, when it produces its sweet smelling white flower. Its dense foliage and fast growing nature make the Osmanthus an ideal choice for screening or fencing.

7. New Zealand Flax
This amazingly hardy plant is a favourite of New Zealand gardeners and can withstand harsh conditions easily. The palm tree like appearance of the plant creates an almost tropical feel and looks great against sea grasses or bright and colourful bed plants. It grows all year round and is ideal for injecting colour and interest during the winter months.

The Author: Paul King is managing director at King and Co, a leading UK online retailer of screening trees, shrubs, topiary and instant hedging solutions.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday's Words - Garden Perspectives

"Lily in Walney Pond"
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink,
or whatsoever you do, 
do all to the glory of God. 

- 1 Corinthians 10:31 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday's Thought

"Leaf in a Pond"
(C) Allen Pearson 2010

I Am that I Am
If a leaf falls from a tree...there I am
If a rainbow appears in the sky...there I am
If you pray a prayer...there I am
If you are in need...there I am
If you seek my face...there I am
Anywhere you are...there I am
Who am I...I Am that I Am

Kim Kirby, 2013