The Effect of Your Focus

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

Focus on JesusPhotography has long been a therapeutic hobby of mine.  I find great delight in capturing images that bring joy to my soul.  If you follow my Sivils and Gold page on Facebook, you’ll quickly see that my children and/or dogs are usually the subject of my pictures.  Pictures are especially important to me because they take me back to a time otherwise forgotten.  They are keys to all of my favorite memories.  I am not the world’s best photographer, but over the years, I have found my niche and know my limits.

A few weeks ago I was asked to do Senior portraits for the son of a close friend. I was hesitant because of how important the pictures would be to the family.  I made my friend promise that if she was not 100% happy with them that she’d take her son to a professional photographer.  Since I do not charge, she wouldn’t be out any money.  She happily agreed.  We spent a few hours one Saturday going to various locations to shoot the pictures.  Towards the end of our session, it began to rain; so we called it a day.  Once I got home and began editing the pictures, I was mostly pleased with the pictures, but noticed towards the end of our shoot, several of the images were blurred (meaning they were out of focus).  In an attempt to “beat the rain”, I did not take the time to carefullyIMG_6562 make sure that the pictures were as sharp as the ones at the beginning of our session.  I was able to do some fixes in the editing, but once an image is out of focus, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to improve it.  We did end up with several great pictures that the family appreciated, but I deleted a few without showing anyone because of the obvious imperfections.

A few days after I’d sent the pictures to the family, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart.  He reminded me that a life that isn’t focused on Christ is filled with distractions and can also become a blur if not corrected.  Hebrews 12 1b-2a (NIV) says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  When our eyes are fixed on Christ, life becomes more focused and better balanced.

Creating a focused photograph directly depends on the amount of light that passes through the lens of the camera.  Creating a focused life directly depends on the amount of light that passes through the lens of our heart.  John 4:5 (NLT) tells us, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  As we spend time in the Bible and in prayer, the light of Jesus shines brighter in our lives.  It causes shadows to dissipate and brings us more in line with His perfect plan for each of us.

Proverbs 4 talks about ways to attain wisdom.  Two of the ways are described in verses 23 and 25 (NLT).  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.  Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you.”

As you go out this next week, I pray that your eyes are fixed on Jesus.  When He is the subject of “the big picture” of your life, the distractions of this world will fade away.

turnyoureyesuponjesus

Have a blessed week, y’all!

What Weddings and The Boy Scouts Have in Common

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

This past weekend I was honored to attend two very different ceremonies for some very awesome young folks that I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow up through the years.  The first was the wedding ceremony of one of my daughter’s oldest friends to her high school sweetheart.  The second was an Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony for Daniel Youngblood.  Though it would seem that the two had nothing in common, as I listened to the speakers I found a common theme woven throughout both ceremonies – servanthood.

The hallmark of a happy marriage is the husband and wife mutually striving to put the other’s needs ahead of their own.  In serving one another, each find fulfillment.  When one of the two insist on putting themselves first, disagreements and conflict will ensue.

The central purpose of the boy scouts is to serve others.  As the scoutmaster pointed out during Daniel’s Eagle Scout Ceremony, with each badge a scout earns a new skill that is learned to assist in better serving others.

Before anyone can become an effective leader, they must first learn to serve.  Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  God asks us to do the same.  “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13b

In today’s society, the word “serve” often makes people cringe.  Somehow the word has become associated with tasks that no one wants.  We imagine trips to Outer Mongolia or washing the feet of a dirty child.  More often than not though, a servant’s heart is developed at home in little things that families tend to do for one another daily.  Those actions trickle down into how we treat those outside of our homes and in our communities.  They become opportunities to minister to others in simple ways that oftentimes are overlooked.  Holding a door open for a stranger, picking up and returning something someone dropped, or sharing a cold water on a hot day says more to people about who we are than the best written biography.  In all of our actions and especially in serving, our sincerest goal should be to be a reflection of the love of God in our lives.

UntitledEphesians 6:7 challenges us, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”  This week be mindful of your actions and look for ways in which you can serve God through serving others.  Remember, even just a smile goes a long way.

 

Have a blessed week, y’all!

Prayer Warrior or Panicked Worrier?

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ‘em?

Trust in YouThe world can be a pretty scary place sometimes. The doctors words are not what we’d hoped to hear. Bills are bigger than the paychecks. The choices we make daily can effect our future in unforeseen ways. For a lot of us, we even fear how we are thought of by others. (And don’t even get me started on the “what ifs”.) It can be hard to navigate life at times without feeling anxious, fearful, or even panic stricken. Those feelings can lead us to living in bondage to our fears rather than in the freedom of God’s grace.

God has a better way. Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT) says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” What? We can have God’s peace? What an amazing promise! Think about it – what does God have to worry about? Nothing! And He offers us the same settled assurance that He has. As Jesus was preparing to leave the disciples, He told them something similar. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (ESV

I recently read a quote by the young, Miss Sadie Robertson on fear. Sadie said, “Confidence in things bigger than yourself will cancel out fear.” When we put our trust in God, the worries of this world melt away. Isaiah 26:3 declares, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”pw

Today keep your thoughts fixed on Him. Let His peace reign in your heart and mind. Trust Him. Let your faith be bigger than your fears. Choose to be a prayer warrior rather than a panicked worrier.

Have a blessed week, y’all!Prayer

The Prodigal Son and the Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1

Shortly before my youngest son’s third birthday, he snuck out of the house one night.  I had left to run an errand.  Connor was playing quietly in his bedroom with his siblings and my husband was in the back of the house.  Several minutes pa76994_450758891510_579391510_5872822_2935834_nst before the older kids informed their dad that Connor was nowhere to be found.

Frantically they searched each and every room and nook and cranny in the house.  Connor had disappeared.  As they darted outside to see if he had indeed wondered from within the safety of our four walls, they were greeted by a kind police officer, Connor, and our faithful dog, Scarlet. Before leaving the house, Connor had let Scarlet out of her crate so that she could join him on his grand adventure.

The officer told my husband that he had found the pair about a block from home.  As he approached Connor to assist him, Scarlet began circling Connor not allowing the officer to come any closer.  The police officer asked Connor if he could take him home, and Connor walked back to our yard with Scarlet at his side and the officer close behind them.

Usually when Scarlet was allowed to roam free outside of a fenced enclosure, she was “gone with the wind”.  Her instincts carried her as she glided as though she were flying.  She was always soon to return, but first, she always ran to her heart’s delight.  Not this time though.  One of her pack was in danger.  She set her sights on safely guarding him and guiding him back home again.  She stayed in step with him preventing him from becoming lost or stolen.

Matthew 18 tells a similar story –  “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

Are you the one that has wandered away and maybe even lost your way?  Jesus came to find you.  He is just a prayer away. When you ask Him, He will happily lead you 19984_10152593581416511_1696330286524250901_nback. Jesus came so that you wouldn’t be lost forever.  Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”   And 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord isnot slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Won’t you come to Him?

Have a blessed week, y’all!