Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Living Stuffed Toy

While visiting a farmer's market in South Haven, Michigan, my wife and I came across a little dog that looked like a living stuffed toy. The dog's owner said his name is Simon. He was so cute, I had to take a picture of him. Unfortunately, the picture I took was slightly out of focus. I almost deleted the picture, but decided instead to try to take the lemon of a photograph and turn it into lemonade. I edited the photo in Photoshop Elements and added some effects that made it look like a painting. Here is the result:

Simon the living stuffed toy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thinking Good Things

In the apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians, the Christian community is encouraged to think of good things:

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." ~ Philippians 4:8

Windblown TreeThinking about good things isn't always easy, especially when watching the news and hearing of the bad things that are happening in our world. One of the best ways I've found to think of good things is to listen to Christian music. When I was younger, I used to listen to a lot of secular pop and rock music. After a while, I realized that my mind was focusing more on the instruments than on the words. That's probably because the lyrics of many pop and rock songs are a bit random.

When I was living in San Diego in the early eighties, I started listening to contemporary Christian music. I quickly discovered that Christian music has a very positive and uplifting message. As I listened to more Christian music, I found myself thinking good thoughts more often. I actually listened to the lyrics of Christian music, not just the instruments.

At the end of 2007, I discovered a wonderful website called Pandora ( Pandora enables users to create their own radio stations, and customize them to play the music they want them to play. To create a radio station, you choose a song or an artist that exemplifies the type of music you want the radio station to play. For example, if you want to create a radio station that plays 1950's era rock-a-billy, you might create a radio station based on Elvis Presley, or on one of the songs he wrote. I've found that it is best to base a station on a particular song, rather than basing it on a particular artist. Once the station is created, it starts playing songs like the song you based the station on, or songs that are like the songs played by the artist you based the station on. As each song plays, you can give it a "thumbs up" to indicate that the song is the type of song you want the radio station to play. If the song doesn't match the type of music the radio station plays, you give the song a "thumbs down". As you "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" songs, you "train" the radio station to play the type of songs you want it to play.

So far, I've created 38 radio stations that play a very wide variety of musical genres. One of my favorite radio station creations is my Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio station. If I'm in the mood to get my ancient Christian music groove on, I listen to my Gregorian Chant radio station. Both of these radio stations help me to think good thoughts, even when I'm feeling down in the dumps. When you get a chance, check them out. I hope they lift your spirits as much as they lift mine.

Here is an example of the music played by my CCM radio station. It's a song by Christian music artist Chris Rice, called Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus):


Here is an example of the music played by my Gregorian Chant radio station. It's a chant called "Veni Creator Spiritus", which is Latin for "Come, Creator Spirit":

Friday, August 12, 2011

Well Adjusted Children

Little Girl Figurine and Necklace
I find it interesting when people say that children raised by same-sex couples are as "well adjusted" as children raised by heterosexual couples. I wonder what they mean by "well adjusted"? The term is subjective, to say the least. I firmly believe in my heart that it is best for children to be raised by a mother and father.