More than half of January is already gone and I have been uber industrious.  So far…..I’ve been keeping up with my goals for the year.  I’ve started several new daily projects that I found while lurking on other blogs.  (And just in case you are also the lurking type,  come out of the shadows and say hello in the comment box.  Connecting is really fun! I’ve been trying to do the same on other blogs and it makes a huge impact on a blogger!  I’d love to hear your thoughts about…..whatever!)

The first project is more a continuation of one that has been popular with Ann Voskamp’s blog and book 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are  .  After reading it and her blog daily, I began the practice of tangibly counting my gifts, and boy has it changed my outlook!  But, I’ve never been able to keep up with it.  I’ve never made it to 1000!  I am hereby determined that this will be the year.!!!  Project #2 is not new to most of you, but I’m attempting to upload a photo a day with Project 365.  I’ve also added a tab on my blog and photography site, hoping to keep me accountable.  Yikes….

So today is the 20th (Happy Martin Luther King Day!) and let me just tell you how these simple goals and daily targets are changing me.  Digital photography is an amazing outlet for literally freezing time.  Thankfulness does the same.  When I first began counting things I was thankful for, I truly was amazed at how it morphed my outlook, DAILY.  I am always on the hunt for the littles in life, the pleasures that usually get overlooked.  When I began counting my blessings, I became thankful for a table and chair that graced my kitchen, or warm water for my shower or the morning, or sunlight streaming in the window melding soft shadows.  Now, in addition to journaling the everyday joys in my life, I’m also looking for a great photo opportunity, at least one, every day.  What I’m finding is that photography parallels life.  In so many ways.  So here’s what I’m finding:

6.  I must read the manual.  I bought a really great camera manual, that remains on my Kindle.  This is a good thing because otherwise it would be tattered and worn out.  As I’ve gained skill these last few years, I continually go back to the manual.  Even when I gain confidence, there ALWAYS remains so much I don’t know.  I long to be more proficient, forge more good habits, develop new ways of producing beauty.  My life with my Creator is similar.  His ways and Word never get old.  They are ever deep and ever teaching.  Help for my everyday living is ever-present in His Word, but I have to read it to find it.  Continuously.

5.  I have to try.  Reading the manual alone is worthless.  I know, I’ve tried.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve laid in the bed, late at night, and looked up how to fix a setting, or how to capture some nighttime event in some new way, but my camera remained across the room.  I thought I would remember the details later.  Right…..I must be willing to change and implement the fix or make a new habit.  This is a little convicting.  How many truths have we heard on Sunday and forgotten about them by Sunday afternoon football?  I am beginning a Beth Moore study on James and this seems to be the underlying message.  Reading His word AND putting His truths into practice go hand in hand.

4.  Sometimes I need to change my perspective.  Oooohh.  This one sometimes hurts.  A great photographer continually documents interesting subjects.  Here’s the kicker,  a subject can be the most mundane ordinary object.  What makes a boring photo into an interesting one is ‘perspective’.   I went to downtown Shreveport this weekend and worked on this skill.  I want to train my eye to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.  People and  circumstances are similar.  I so want to have HIS eyes.  I long to see my family, the people in my life, the strangers I encounter, for their true beauty.  I want to see them as He does.  Sometimes I need to back up, other times I need to dig into what may REALLY be happening.  Sometimes I need a filter.  I am so grateful that what He sees is filtered by  the blood of His Son.

3.  My screw-ups get deleted.  I love this.  I have a lot of yuckies. A LOT.  Digital photography is a magical thing.  Getting better, and developing skill requires countless ‘throw aways’ in the trash bin on my computer.  That’s o.k.  For every one photo that actually gets posted somewhere,  I bet ten get pitched.  BUT, I’m trying.  With humility.  Jesus doesn’t remember my screw-ups either, from ‘as far as the east is from the west’.  Every day is new in this life.  We get a do over each and every day with the trash bin permanently deleted.

2.  I must stay in the present,  focused on the right now.  This is perhaps my greatest surprise with this project.  I begin the day with the task of finding an interesting photo.  I’m not worried about what I need to photograph tomorrow, other than a plan jotted down.  I watch my people.  Their smiles and habits take on new significance.  They will never be in this place again.  Oh I am so guilty of worrying about tomorrow!  In an ever changing military (or retiring) world always in flux, this one is really hard.  Let me say it again.  My Your people will never be in this place again.  This year marks countless milestones, another high school graduation, braces coming off, Air Force retirement.  The events themselves must be photographed, but how about the smiles of the everyday brace-face, today?  Years from now, perhaps at her wedding,  I will look back wistfully on how she looked with her braces on.

1.  The Light changes everything.  Photography is all about the light.  I try to work with it, harness it.  Interesting light changes the feel of a photo, its mood, and it can make or break a setting.  The first rule and always the most important aspect of capturing an image is to find the light source.  Natural light photographers are adept in positioning their subjects around the sun.  Studio photographers spend tons of money on great light boxes.  My life, as well, truly is all about the Light.  His big plan is just that, His big plan.  All our lives are purposed to fit into it, both individually and collectively.  When we see our place in this world from His perspective, our callings take on eternal significance.  When the Light of the world becomes our energy source, everything else, all our details fall in line. We align the rest of ourselves, our lives, so everything, EVERYTHING, is lit by it.  Such is the secret to true happiness.

The best thing about Project 365 or 1000 Gifts is that anyone can jump in anywhere. Come on and jump in with me!!  Just like photography, life is all about the learning.