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…

 

~JoAnn

 

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Why Does It Have To Take So Long?

Trust In THe Lord
Trust In The Lord

 

This new year has been monumental for me! I have spent many years praying for certain things to come to fruition and was placed in “waiting mode”.  Been there?  Nothing seems to be going on and you don’t see any answers?  Did you give up?  Think God wasn’t listening? Lose your joy? Get all negative?  You can’t see where it’s going so you aren’t even going to take the next step?

I have seen and read a lot of negative things around me lately.  Lest we forget how blessed we really are, I want to share some personal thoughts with you.  Did you know that sometimes we have to wait for the answers for MANY different reasons? I have found that God sometimes is teaching me things that I need to know during those times when I think He isn’t doing anything. BUT…in reality, He IS doing something! It all depends on whether I am willing to be obedient to what He says to me during these times. I may gripe, complain, get a short fuse, even get discouraged about my whole life, but, all the while, God is working on the solutions. I can’t seem them.  Shoot!  I don’t even know they EXIST yet! BUT GOD…is faithful. He never let’s go of my hand. The only time our lives get in this situation is when we have pulled our hand away. Possibly, we have tried making things happen on our own rather than waiting.  Oops…never a good thing.  But then, when we put our hand in His, all of a sudden, things become a bit clearer. We start to see things through His lens and view-point. We see His hand at work and we can begin to see the wheels turning toward what God has in mind for us.  In my case, I am much more willing to step out with Him.

These last several months, I have seen God…

  • Bring us to a point of being debt free.  We have been praying and working on that for about 8 years.  Something always seemed to happen that kept us in debt. But we began diligently seeking God about this area of our lives, and asked Him to help us, AND we got some Holy Spirit gumption and determination!
  • Bought a house that had lots of work to do on it.   He has helped us accomplish that the work.
  • We sold a house that took many months to sell which meant we were making double payments.  But after many offers falling through, He brought the EXACT right couple.
  • We made additions to our home, that under normal circumstances, would seem impossible.  Yet, God did it.
  • Money unexpectedly coming to us to pay debt down.  Also, through scrimping to make extra payments, somehow the money spread around to all expenses.
  • We were faithful in our giving.
  • We even enjoyed some “get away” times together.

God just did it!  The important part of this whole process was, OUR involvement with Him. We prayed and listened.  We were obedient to say no to ourselves,  in order to say YES to God.  So, He was faithful to honor our needs and some of our wants.  We can’t ask Him to be debt free and not be willing to do our part to get there.  THAT was our process.  We listened.  We learned.  We followed.

Next BIG point?  We thanked Him ahead for what He would do.  We thanked Him for

The Perfect Reflection
The Perfect Reflection

being debt free, we thanked Him for the appliances, we thanked Him for the items we needed to save on daily living expenses, and we thanked Him for the savings that we had.  We thanked Him for how He made the money stretch.  You know what?  He did it over and over again!  We might find just the right thing for our home (the mirror in the picture) and He blessed us with a way to make that happen.

Now before you think it is all about “things”, He will do those exact same things in ANY area of our lives.  AND, He cares about the smallest desires of our hearts.  I love that about the Lord!  In this process, I have learned to love the daily, simple things that come my way and never take them for granted.  I have a Gratitude Jar that I am keeping this year and every time anything good comes my way, I am putting a heart in my jar with the written word of my blessing, and at the end of the year on New Year’s Eve, we will take that jar out and read what God has done.  Anyone coming into my home may add to that jar.  Last week, my grandson asked if he could add another heart to the jar!  Now THAT does a grandma’s heart good!

So don’t let the devil get you all tied up in knots over time lines.  Know that God is working the night shift, and He KNOWS what you need.  But you need to walk in faith “in the mean time” and trust His timing too.  Leave your cares in His hands because He cares about you.  ALL about you!  Don’t put your mind to the negative.  Find the good in your day.  You are alive here on this planet today to enjoy your friends and family and to be a light to others.  Make it count!  Count your blessings one by one so you SEE what the Lord has done!  Remember that song from when you were younger?  It is true.  It will bring joy to your heart.  I promise, and God promises that very thing to us in His Word.  “This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  THAT is the best way to fight the good fight.  Be a warrior and start wielding the sword of the Spirit!!  Don’t let the evil one whisper in your ear anymore.  Bring out your Sword!

Bottom line?  I have walked this journey with the above ways for most of my life.  I can tell you it works.  Do I get discouraged?  Sure I do!  But not for long, because my experience with God tells me that He knows.  He cares.  He is always working.  What He has done before, He will do again!

Give Him your cares, SO THAT, He can show Himself faithful.  Don’t give in, give it up to Him!  Walking the journey with you…