F8th — Letting In The Right Light at the Proper Shutterspeed

1Our daily life paces at a break neck speed. Each task is like a large collection of pictures. By day’s end, our heads our spinning as we feel as though we’ve seen 5000 things. Each task, makes up the shutter speed of our life.  Each task is an allotment of our day.  Load the dishwasher, that’s 1/125th of the day.  Check a text, that’s 1/5000th.  Of course, we repeat this task a thousand times!   Got to work, now there’s a long-term exposure.  We stay busy doing many many things, all at different speeds.     We live our lives as if we are in high-speed continuous shooting mode.  But are we creating anything that lasts?

In photography when we shoot at 1/5000 of a second, not very much light comes in, even if we use a big f-stop or aperture–even with a premium lens.

So how do we accomplish all the tasks of the day with intentionality, purpose, and quality?
I suppose some of it depends on how we start and end our day, and more importantly how we transition from task to task through out:

  • Do we start each day with a quick prayer?
  • Lord, Jesus help me get thru this day.
  • Woof down our lunch and forget to pray?
  • Go to bed and rattle off our litany of prayer requests for ourselves, and then others if we have time? Perhaps an occasional utterance of gratitude?  Does this sound familiar? I know I am speaking to myself here on so many of my days.


Living life this way is like going thru our day and taking a whole lot of pictures but not having enough time to edit them. We don’t have enough time to make them meaningful because we have too many to go through. Our clarity (perspective) on the totality of the sum total of all these tasks & images is hazy. When we have too much to do, our purpose for the whole batch seems to not make any sense. We’ve lost sight of the big picture, because of sheer volume of small pictures.

But there IS a better way:


This is our struggle: Like an over-bloated picture library, we have to DOWNSIZE the VOLUME of our tasks and then apply precision FOCUS and INTENTIONALITY to that which remains.

Like editing pictures, we have to PRIORITIZE our tasks into CATEGORIES:

 Must Do

 Ought to Do

 Could Do

 Want to Do

 Definitely Don’t Do (Not worthy of my time , harmful, keeps me from God)


But how do we get to this better way?  Faith or F8th!  Faith in Jesus who can supply all of our needs!

We must pray continuously as we start, move through out or day, and end it.

In photography, a good picture results when these three things work in harmony:  aperture (how much light comes in), shutterspeed (how fast or slow the light comes in), and ISO (your camera’s sensitivity to light).

We can use some of these same elements and improve our daily life:

Son and light – Spend enough “time value” with Jesus and FOCUS on what his words mean.  How can I apply his lessons, not just read words on a page?

Speed –  “Slow down, you move to fast” — Paul Simon -59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)   We all know we have to slow down.  The key is to do it.    Unplug from media.  Take in each moment.  Linger sometimes.  Listen more.  Be present.  Breathe.

Light Sensitivity – Cultivate a teachable spirit.  Pray often.  Ask for wisdom.  Ask for help in being kinder.  Appreciate this day we’ve been given.  Love well.  And ask for divine help when it’s hard to do so.

Transition between our tasks with a gratitude prayer. Let God’s light in. It’s like opening up the aperture to our heart.

Do these things and you may accomplish less, but live more.    You may find an inconvenient truth that even some photographers already know:  Not every moment was designed to be documented, but rather written in a permanent place in our heart and savored in that sacred place.

Life is magnificent, even during the mundane tasks and the overwhelming volume and pace we’ve grown accustomed to.

On your way out the door, look up.  Check the weather.  It’s a perfect day to shoot at F8th!



The Big Bang Theory — According to Liz

Big Bang Psalm 8.3 and 4      Once upon a time in my life, a big crisis came.  BANG!   It was big.  How big?   Big enough to rock my world, and tilt my universe.

But you know what?  It didn’t kill me.  Though I thought it might.  It certainly had the potential to.  I thought I didn’t have the strength to go one more day.  But the next day, the sun rose again, and my feet found the floor and moved forward.

I didn’t think I could handle it.  And I was right.  In my own strength, I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  And I’m not.  But with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26) That’s what’s engraved in the cross around my neck, and even more it’s invisibly etched in my heart; it’s the fiber of who I am.

See when you experience your BIG BANG moment, chances are it’s going to be one of those things that makes you question everything:

  •       Why did this happen to me? Our family?  The person I love?
  •       If God is good, why didn’t He PREVENT this?  Or FIX it?
  •       Or for God’s sake, allow me (us) to AVOID it all together?

I’ll tell you why.  Because none of us are spared.  In this world, you will have troubles…..

   You know it all too well.  If you’ve suffered, you know John 16:33 by heart by now.

We don’t get out of life without our share of sorrow or suffering.   We also don’t get out of life ALIVE.   It’s true.  We have to make our peace that we are but a blip on the timeline known as eternity.  And in so accepting, making peace with the question:

Okay then, what does it all mean?  What’s the point of anything in life?

You have to find the answers.   In the midst of the worst struggle—the most aggressive cancer or disease you are sentenced to live with, the scariest nightmare realized, the worse fear come true, or the harshest experience ever endured,  you have to CHOOSE: 

       If I never get the WHY of my questions answered, then how do I incorporate this into my life without being bulldozed by it?  How can I choose my suffering so that I can thrive, not just survive?

Everybody is different.  But for me, well a little time on the carpet, the vinyl, the place where the dust bunnies frolic is the best place to start.  On my knees.  Looking up.  Reaching out.  Trusting.  Hoping.  Knowing that to be true, which I can neither see or prove:

That there is a God.  And He really is faithful, involved in this, grieved by this, moved by this, working on this behind the scenes,and loving each of us thru this in so many tangible ways:

  • The prayers of others
  • The kindness of friends and strangers
  • The peace that sometimes comes and surpasses understanding

The wisdom to know that when fear creeps in, He is bigger than all of this and returns  the moment I ask for Him to.

      I took a picture of the moon tonight.  At first glance it was just a white dot in a black background.  I shot it from multiple exposure values: aperture sizes (determines the amount of light let into the lens), and shutter speeds (how long the shutter remains open).  You know what?  Despite subtle differences, the pictures looked pretty much the same.  Dull.  Listless.

But once I opened it up in my favorite photo editing app appropriately named LightRoom, I pulled the lever labeled “Clarity” over to the right about 100% to be exact.  And voila!  Stars appeared.  Stars I didn’t even see with my naked eye when I originally took the picture.  I zoomed in on the moon to enlarge it a bit.  More detail popped out, though somewhat hazy still to my eye.   You see I am limited by the lens through which I view all this.  Not just my camera lens, but also my human optical lens.

   Life is like that.  We see our circumstances through the lens of our own understanding.  And thus we are born into a life of pain.  We sometimes don’t get to see the diamond that is being cut out of the roughness of our life.   But God, with his infinite all-seeing eye, who created the moon, the stars, the earth, all the solar systems, and the entire universe, can always see all these details that we can’t.

We feel bitter tears slip from our eyes, but He only sees stars.  It is here, He best sees into us; He looks deep into the windows of our soul, and plants a new vision.  During our trials, is where God best plants the vision of hope, endurance, peace, and someday—joy.

       Life, like photography is about perspective.  It’s about vision.  It’s also about clarity.   There’s contrast involved—we can’t know light (goodness) if we don’t have darkness (evil) to compare it with.   We see our life thru a macro lens, up close and personal.  But God sees our lives (the big picture) from a wide angle lens that makes the Gran Telescopio Canarias (it has an aperture of a whopping 409 inches!) seems like the width of a gnat.  He also can see very detail up close, as if using an electron microscope, seeing the detail of our cells not even a billionth of a meter wide.    He can see every speck of us—perfectly.  And He can see within us, what others can’t and sometimes what even we can’t see in ourselves:  Our hurts, our dreams, our fears, our desires, our hopes, our passions, our purpose, and most of all:  our potential.

Sooner or later in life you may have one of those cataclysmic events that can only be described as The Big Bang.  The rest of the world hums merrily along unaware that you nearly lost your hearing, your vision, your sanity, and quite possibly your life as this cosmic collision internally implodes in your life.

But hold fast.  Trust in a God big enough to swallow your fears and your doubts.  Through applied pressure, extreme heat, and gravitational pull, know that God is forging something, better, refined, and new.   He ordered the universe outside of you; He can certainly order, rearrange, or repair if necessary,  the micro verse within you.   Wait upon Him.     Something beautiful is being made from all this.  Trust in Him to reveal it all at exactly the right time.

BANG BANG!  Now pray!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”   Rick Warren – “The Purpose Driven Life:  What on Earth Am I Here For?”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Scarlet Ibis by Liz GrayWhere do you fly away to when life becomes too stressful?  Let me tell you about a beautiful place in NC that can only be described as one of my personal “Seven Wonders” of my world at least.  It is a waterfowl sanctuary in Scotland Neck, NC called “Sylvan Heights Bird Park”.  It is the largest waterfowl sanctuary in the world and is twenty-six acres of sheer beauty.  You will see beautiful birds and flowers and everywhere you turn  you’ll see beauty and have a chance to see the birds.  If you go to the Landing Zone, you will have an opportunity to feed them as well and let them land on you, and believe me they will land on everything: your shoulders, your head, and your shoes, especially if you have laces.

If you are an avid bird watcher or a professional or hobbyist photographer, this is one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen.  It takes about a half day to really appreciate it and you will love the personal attention from the staff towards you and the birds.  Put this  place on your bucket list!

IMG_0034I took this picture of a peacock thru a chain linked fence. He displayed his beautiful feathers for about 10 minutes!

IMG_9888Flamingo in The Landing Zone

IMG_9828My young son had up to five birds land on him in The Landing Zone






Green Movement (Post a Week Challenge)


Green Photos submitted by Liz Gray for Weekly Photo Challenge:  Green

All Pics taken at NC Asheboro Zoo in August 2012

Pic 1: Yoga Turtle enjoys the Green Movement

Pic 2:  Butterfly on the Green

Pic 3: Green in the pond

Pic 4:  Leafy Greens on the playground

And now that you’ve enjoyed some green pics, maybe you’ll enjoy listening to one of my favorite songs:   “Green” by Edie Brickell and The New Bohemians: