About nine years ago, a “mild interest” for photography turned into something more. It started with wanting to capture images of this precious little baby boy that joined our family, our sweet firstborn Bear. It grew with my desire to share about our ministry in South Africa in a way that would communicate the beauty and hope and great needs we were encountering. And when we arrived back in the States and it turned into a vocation — wielding a camera to shoot alongside the Hero Hubs on a regular basis — well it was time for that slight affinity to become a genuine area where I could grow and learn and make progress.

One of the most important things I discovered over time was that I often make the same mistake with a camera that I (quite possibly often) make with words: simply put, I aim for too much.

Big surprise for the girl who consistently had “talks excessively” on her school report cards, right?

With the camera (and often with words) I find myself wanting to show the whole picture, wanting the viewer to be able to see the bride and her Mom and the windows with the boats in the distance and the mirror that is reflecting all this gorgeousness and gosh aren’t those pillows on the bed really pretty, too?

But guess what? If you try to take a picture of everything, you sometimes end up taking a picture of nothing.

As we came home from wedding after wedding and talked and I asked questions and furrowed eyebrows and thought and listened to the Hubs, who is a very patient and good teacher, I began to make an important observation.

The Hubs’ photos are often breathtakingly beautiful to me because you know exactly what to look at. You see enough to tell the story — but not so much that you’re overwhelmed and don’t have any idea where to look. Even if there are trees in the foreground and river in the background, still the focus of an image created by a great photographer will tell you exactly where to look, that beautiful sweet spot in between those gently blurred trees and that softly flowing distant river, where the adorable couple are strolling along, or the dog’s tongue hangs from his mouth while the guy smiles at the girl and holds her hand with one hand, the leash with the other.

And focus is a part of what tells the story. But not just the kind of focus the camera does when it decides which part of the picture will be “in focus” and which will be “out of focus” and perhaps look a little blurred. It is also choosing the framing, choosing to take those extra few steps closer to the subject, so that you’re looking at the flower that’s right there, or just the baby’s face, or just that one sliver of light coming through that one part in the branches of that tree.

Trying to show too much, just like trying to say too much, often means less of what you really want to communicate comes through. 

Like Coco Chanel’s advice, to take off a piece of jewelry before leaving the house, or an interior decorator suggesting you limit the number of tchotchkes on the table at the front door, it seems like more of the story seems to come through when you edit, and just focus on trying to tell one part of it really well.

I’ve wondered several times recently, after remembering and then being reminded what John wrote: that if all the things Jesus said and did were recorded, the world could not contain all the books that would be written.

I asked myself in my own head: “Why aren’t there more books? Why didn’t God decide to tell more of the story? Why is it edited down to those four Gospel accounts — which even have different ways of telling some of the same stories?”

Maybe the truth is we wouldn’t understand the story better just because we had more words to read. We will understand more by reading what we already have, focusing in on the themes and lessons contained therein. There is enough truth contained in those four Gospels to foster a lifetime of learning, right?

Could that apply to life? What if instead of trying to do everything we focused in, and focused on one thing? And truly, gave that one thing focus for more than one day, or even one week?

All of this, as you may have guessed, led to the birth of The Good Words. Every month, I’m going to share an idea with you. One word. One theme. And one Scripture verse to go along with it. I’ll share some ideas for how to wrestle with that word. How to internalize it. Perhaps even how to memorize that one Scripture on your own or with friends or family.

Each week I’ll share one post that will dig a little deeper into the one word we’re focusing on together. I hope you’ll read, and that it will encourage you to think even more, ask yourself more questions, ask God more questions. {I’d love for you to share Good Word stories with the hashtag #thegoodwordcc so that we can find each other and enjoy the stories and encourage each other on the journey.} Maybe it will help you see some of the extraneous parts of the picture of your life — things that are the less important things, things that belong on the edges — so that you can take a few steps closer and focus in on the main things, the deep things. The things that matter most.

I’m very excited about diving in on February 1st! I’m also VERY excited that I have a friend along for the journey, who’ll be creating some beautiful prints that I hope will find their way to your mirror or fridge or dining room wall or all of the above.

Before we jump into February, I’ll post to share the Good Word, the corresponding verse, and a link to the prints in case you’d like to use them. That way you’ll have a chance to have everything ready to get started on day one! But I highly recommend subscribing via email so that you never miss a post!

I’ve gotten just a sneak peek of one of the beautiful prints my friend has created for you all — I can’t wait to share them with you and get started!

If you are jumping in, I’d love to encourage you to find a friend to join you on the journey! Share this post and ask a friend to join by subscribing to With Love, From Here so they’ll never miss a post, either. They can sign up right here!

I’m praying these words will truly change your world, and the world around you, for the better this year!

Stay tuned…