The Power of An Image

I love to take photos. I take photos of everything I see and experience. When asked what my photography niche is, I would have to say that don’t really have one that I enjoy more than just the joy of taking the photo and being creative with them. I love to take photographs of many things. But a good friend once told me that my gifting was in the area of vignettes… those pictures you take of a moment in time that invokes a feeling from looking at the photo. It isn’t of someone, a landscape view, nature, an object, or animals. However, it may include some of them in the photograph. It’s like a puzzle photo you put together to get the look you desire. It invokes a feeling. It is something I see that causes me to take a moment and feel what I see, maybe even ask why I am seeing it, and then, what I should do with what I see. It makes you think. It tells a story. I had a strong urging today to write a bit about this. So…here it goes!

Quiet Time

I enjoy catching those moments in my story each day. It is my reminder of the good in my day. It also reminds me to be grateful that I can enjoy those moments. Each photo holds value to me, and my hope is that they encourage others. It may give someone hope, a bright spot in their day, or a view they haven’t seen. A reminder of good things. In my case, it reminds me of a legacy of a life well-lived. I can just be sitting there and then I see a photo in my mind’s eye and I have to set it up to create it.

Homemade Vest from Childhood

Pictures help us to see the present moment and encourage us to reflect on it. We have heard the saying…a perfect moment in time. That is what a photo is all about. Even if it’s not the best one, it is the one you have. Sometimes you totally miss getting it, but I have learned to say that the photo I missed, God gave to me for my eyes only that time.

Tradition in my home growing up that I make because I love them!

There are many taking pictures now days that spend an inordinate amount of time taking selfies in all kinds of situations. That is a fun way to chronicle a special event or circumstance that is a part of your story. But when we put out all these self-made glamour selfies out there, we aren’t always living in the reality of every day life. Sure, everyone wants to look their best, but you are concentrating on the love of self a lot more than what may be necessary. We all want to look a certain way, show our family a certain way, and project a certain image. Our cameras that we can so easily hold and take with us, are a very valuable tool in the hands of the owner. It will be your past that speaks into your future someday; a gift left to your family and friends. What pictures do you have more of? What is going on in the moments of your life? If someone scrolled through your cell phone pictures, or computer pictures, will they find more of your selfies and you doing something that spotlights YOU, or would they find pictures of what your life and memories have been?

Fun at the cabin.

You see, as believers, we want to highlight ourselves less, and Him more. So what IF we started taking pictures and photos that showed our gratefulness for what we have? The beauty of His creation? The love of family gatherings? Special items you have that speak of your growing up years? What brings you joy? What makes you sad? What if we move others through our photos? What if we didn’t post the ugliness of things on Facebook, but posted the positive and funny experiences? Because…well…it doesn’t help to post things that we can’t do anything about, such as, all the sadness and abuse out there that we most likely can’t change. That doesn’t help anyone. When we are out taking selfies, we also teach our children that it is all about ME. When we post every little thing, we suddenly become all about the “posing”. Even little kids know how to put their little hands on their hips and act in a certain way for a picture. I would rather see them in the real life experiences where a memory is made. Maybe it will be them enjoying fun and laughter, eating ice cream, fun with a pet, camping in the back yard, learning something new or being with their grandparents. Those are valuable pictures. Picture yourself sitting at some point and a child asks to see your pictures, and all they see are dozens and dozens of pictures of you. That doesn’t tell them anything about your life, dreams, loves, feelings, or what you think about the life you have lived so far.

I know that I post a lot of life pictures. Pictures of thoughts during the day, my collection of mocha cups, a candle lit for ambiance, a picture of beautiful nature, a flower, my home as we make improvements, various great “finds” that I come across shopping, something I have read, music, where I have my quiet time, challenges that I go through that may help another when their times comes for a challenge, and the fun my hubby and I have together, just to name a few. Those are the things that make a picture valuable. You can’t get those moments back without the pictures. You may even get to the point where some are forgotten and that picture brings it all back to you.

It’s like a ministry to me. I hope someone sees my pictures and thinks they can do that, or I want to do that, or what a great idea, or maybe… Lord, help me to put that as a priority in my life also. We each have a story. We are time managers because we are making a lasting moment with a picture.

Home ambiance that is important to me.

God has changed my life through pictures. It keeps me present and grateful. Know the value pictures hold for you and I encourage you to use that tool; your cell phone or camera, to the utmost. You may not like to journal but pictures are a great way to do that instead of writing. God has given us technology to work with, let’s use it for something good, something true, and something valuable. Make something magic happen with it. It becomes like time travel, and that, we can all identify with! The nostalgia of looking through the archives of photos!

Dial back a few years and enjoy the journey through your story and maybe re-evaluate the power of your images. With renewed intention, we can change everything!

Until next time…






This week has been a busy week!  We are preparing for a trip back east and headed ultimately for North Dakota.  But, we are excited to see all the sights in-between!  So I will be posting some about the trip here on the blog, and I hope you will enjoy the sights and sounds of our road trip with me. We will see cousins on the way in Wenatchee and Moses Lake, WA.  The areas we hope to visit are Yellowstone Park, Jackson Hole, Cody, Mount Rushmore, and whatever else we have time to see.  We will visit a cousin’s restaurant while in North Dakota for some good food.  Then, we will be meeting up in Verona, North Dakota for a reunion on my mom’s side of the family.  I’m very much looking forward to sharing stories and life with them for a few days!  We will have a chance to share genealogy together too and that will be so fun!  I’m taking my mom and dad with me in spirit!  God is good to help us make this trip and we are very excited for it to start!  We hope to come back home along the coast line and THAT is going to be awesome too.  My camera is going to get a BIG workout these next two weeks!  Watch for the posts!

So, I will leave you today with a question I posted today on Facebook:

Do you believe that your best life is behind you, or, in front of you?  I will be checking back for your answers!  Blessings to each one of you that faithfully follow the blog.  I appreciate you!

Walking the journey with you…


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

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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!