Zoom In – Focus for 2015

FocusFall…it brings wonderful feelings of cozy days and nights, fires burning, a candle or two of your favorite fragrance, and soup and bread.  There are colors that touch us deeply as trees change, and their colorful beauty helps us transition into another season.  Then, comes that first frost and the leaves are falling and blowing in the wind.  The other day, I took a walk in the wind with all those leaves blowing around me.  It felt wonderful!  Fall ushers in changes in our lives as we begin to think about holidays and what the new year brings.

In my case, the Fall brings another area to pray over, and that is my word for the year.  I usually don’t get my word until the middle or end of November each year.  However, this year, I received my word very early.  This last summer God gave me my word for 2015…wait for it….zoom in…and there it is…Focus.  Go figure…God would give me a photographic reference as my word!  In years past, I have had journey, light, celebrate, and last year it was watchful, to name a few.  Let’s look at a definition of the word Focus:

  • a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity:
    a point at which rays of light, heat, or other radiation, meet after being refracted or reflected.
    the focal point of a lens.
    the clear and sharply defined condition of an image.
    the position of a viewed object or the adjustment of an optical device necessary to produce a clear image:
    in focus; out of focus.
    to bring to a focus or into focus:
    to focus the lens of a camera.
    to concentrate:
    to become focused.
  • center, heart, core, nucleus

* (dictionary.reference.com)

So, what does this word Focus mean for me this year?  I think God wants me to make Him my central point; that’s where my attention needs to be, and where I need to Focus.  It is rather like my camera lens.  I can set my settings so that my subject is all that is in Focus Coffee Breakfocus.  But, I can also set my settings so that the whole view is in focus.  I think God wants me to zoom in on my life lens and Focus more on Him, my main subject, and what He would have to me to do.  He wants me to have a clear and sharply defined view of his will for me. My concentration should be seeking Him at every turn, trusting Him with everything, and allowing Him to work in me.  I may need some BIG time cropping!  It may not be all that comfortable.  However, if that is the case and my Focus is on Him, then I am going in the right direction.  In terms of  photographing a personal portrait, it is wise to Focus on the eyes and if you do, the portrait will be in good Focus.  It is the same for us.  If we are concentrating our Focus on Jesus eyes/face, we will have a life that is centered in Him as our core, plus, we will have a Focus like never before!

I also love the idea of Focus being a point at which rays of light, meet after being reflected.  So, in my case, I think God is telling me that I need to be a light to those around me and to be so connected with Him that I reflect Him in all I do.  Is that going to be easy?  No, most certainly not.  Satan will always cause things to happen in our lives where we are tested with our Focus and clarity.  I have had that very thing to deal with in our family these last few months.  It has been very difficult!  I can already see that the reason for my early impartation of my word for the year, may be just because it is at this season in my life that I need it!  Thus, he gave me the word Focus so I am viewing it with the right lens.  It’s like when you take a picture of a person, for example, if the background it is all cluttered with any number of things in the house or room, you find yourself looking at all of that clutter instead of the person.  What we need is to learn the skills that help us learn HOW to focus better on the main subject.  It is kind of like that old saying about “keeping your head in the game”.  We have to be aware of what is going on around us.

If we want to gain Focus in our lives, we need to:

  • prepare ourselves – in prayer, study of the Word and asking God to give us the right focus
  • learn better ways of focusing – study and meditate how to implement it in our life
  • have the right equipment – our Bible out and reading it, a devotional, podcast, attend Bible Study, Sunday Service, friends who will give us insight
  • keep our eyes peeled – always be watching for where God is working in us and our lives around us, and join Him in that work. Asking the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and teach us what we need to know

Isn’t it interesting that these words of center, heart and light would be used for the meaning of the word Focus?  We think of it like Focusing in on something, getting direction, narrowing our view, or whatever it will invoke in us as we think about it.  Where is our Focus?  Is it on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, sports, or this or that activity?  I am really re-thinking my life and purpose.  I want it to be about the right things, and if I am always distracted by the things I think I HAVE to be a part of, maybe, just maybe, I am really the one missing out.  THAT is something I don’t want to happen. I’m finding that Focus can require a lot from me, but I think I need to be a seeker of its meaning for me.  When I am taking pictures, they don’t just come to me.  I have to look for them, seek them out, walk or drive out to get the shot, have my head in the game, and I have to give of my time.  I believe the same is true of sharpening our Focus on the right things in my daily life.

JoAnn ShileyI can’t wait to see what God has to teach me in the next year in regard to the word Focus!  I know from experience in years past, that my word for the year is life changing!  He will change my center and heart.  He has already started!  Won’t you ask God how He wants to work in your life this next year?  What word may He want to give you to Focus on?  Please share if you have been given a word.  I would love to pray that over your life this year and next.

Walking the journey with you…





What’s Your Aperture?

What do you allow to pass through your eye gates on a daily basis? Do you remember the scripture that talks about the eyes being the window to the soul? I was thinking about this again as our pastor made mention of the aperture of a camera in last Sunday’s sermon. I think it’s worth further thought.

Here is the definition of aperture:   aperture |ˈapərˌ ch ər| noun chiefly technical; an opening, hole, or gap : the bell ropes passed through apertures in the ceiling.• a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, esp. the variable opening by which light enters a camera.

Aperture allows you to specify how the camera chooses its settings when making an exposure, to give great creative control.  It controls sharpness or how much of your image is in focus. A photographer needs to adjust the amount of light that is allowed through the lens in order to get proper exposure and clarity. When a photographer is taking a picture that is in bright light, they will adjust the lens to a smaller opening so a diminished about of light is let in through the lens of the camera. If they need more light, then they will open up the setting of the lens to allow more light to come in to get the shot.

It’s a little different for us in our relationship with the Lord. The way a photographer adjusts the aperture for a picture, is not the same way we want to adjust the amount of God’s light we let in to our lives. The photographer is always in control of the outcome of the picture, depending on their artistic view and outcome they want. We also have control over how much of Him we let into our lives on a daily basis. We need to have an open aperture for the Lord, letting in as much of Him in as possible. The Holy Spirit needs a fully open lens also. Where we need to have the smallest lens opening is when we are among worldly things where the enemy will try to work. We do not want so much of the world in our view that it blinds our eyes to the things of God. We have to use a filter on our lens. That way, we can see more clearly, and the haze that the enemy wants to use, will be made clearer through our view finder.

Think of it like your eye. In a dark room your pupils are bigger, letting in more light so you can see better in the dark. In a bright area, the pupil is smaller and let’s less light in so you don’t get blinded by the light. With God, it is different. We want our God Lens to be open as wide as possible. If our lens is wide open to the Lord, He will help us see clearer, even in the dark. We want our Prayer Lens to be wide open to what God wants to place in our hearts. He wants us to focus like a telephoto lens on the future. That way, you don’t get distracted with your view of the situations up close to you. We have a tendency to look at things through a Macro Lens where we see every fault and wrong we or others, have ever done. But God wants to give you a different focus; one you can enjoy. How? Look through His lens. We need to have a wide open lens to see His beauty and His work, but focus on Him like the telephoto lens does for distance.

Several years ago, I felt like I was supposed to pick up my hobby of photography once again. In that process, God gave me a project a couple of years ago. I was to take a photo every day for a year and to share a thought about that picture on Facebook. I can’t begin to tell you the change that took place in me through that daily photo. I began to see things differently, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. He showed me things close up and far away. But, I began to see Life Through A Different Lens. His lens. That is the name He gave me to call the Project.

Today I am enjoy sharing the joy of photography with others as a source of encouragement. I want to have an aperture setting in my life that is wide open to God and the workings of the Holy Spirit. Full light, full sound, full relationship, and full vision. Go ahead. Get your eye gates open, or your camera out, get creative, look for the moment, and press the shutter button. Make a notation of the moments God shows you. You will be amazed, as I have been, how different you will begin to look at your life and what is going on around you. The camera will focus on what you aim it at. Aim for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Watch your aperture settings. You will never be the same!