Can you hear?

When Peter spoke to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, they were amazed to hear him in their own language. They listened, and their lives were never the same. What if, as soon as they heard him talking about the death and resurrection of Jesus, they had stomped off, unwilling to listen to his foolishness? What if they closed their minds, certain they already knew the way to go? The way to life? Would they be like Lot’s wife, who, instead of following God’s lead looked back, longing for Sodom, and turned into a hard, lifeless pillar?
deadwood on Dry Tortugas island

How many times has God spoken to us and instead of receiving words of life we chose what we have determined is the way our life, or the life of one we care about, should go?

Can we continue to live with such hardness?

I think much of the benefit of giving thanks is in the softening effect it has on our psyche. We can’t raise a hand in thanksgiving and a fist in anger at the same time.

Even when circumstances are hard, when we look for God’s hand at work, or listen to his words, spoken in our own language, we hear the whisper in the silence that guides us forward.

We find the light in the darkness, and that tiny flame begins the softening in our souls.

How long can we go on, ignoring the word of life, growing ever harder?

Until our shell is so thick that we cannot move, cannot turn, cannot hear?

God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. Ephesians 5:18 MSG

Are you amazed?

Many of us have found our attitudes radically altered by reading, and re-reading, Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts. But, whether from indwelling personality or past injuries, what can you do if you automatically see the glass as half empty?

Thankfulness and thanksgiving pop up everywhere I turn. In our church we can log into our website and add our blessings to those listed, with a goal of 10,000!

But how do we gain an attitude of thanksgiving? What if, like me, you are pensive by nature, and naturally tune into the pain and brokenness around you?

In a room full of people I can’t help noticing the uncomfortable one, the wall-flower, the one retreating with an unexpressed need. I imagine how the moth feels when it flies into a spider web. It has been a struggle to assert authority over my puppy, rather than dwell on her feelings.

It surprised me to realize that by allowing my sensitive nature to rule, I am, but default, viewing the world through a negative lens

looking at the world as if God doesn’t exist

or he doesn’t care

or doesn’t have the power

looking at the world without faith!

That is not a place I want to stay. My first step has been to take every thought captive.

…tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 MSG

Some days it is an every minute, constant battle to stop the negative mind-slant. I must simply freeze, and re-frame that view.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. Philippians 4:6-7

When I choose to notice it, even the tiniest detail can become a delight, an amazement—a natural state of thanksgiving. As long as I recognize that I am only the recipient of all the wonders, big and little, and give thanks to the One who made them, I go from wonder to amazement.

by Jack H Thompson Jr

Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. Romans 1:24 MSG

I won’t lie. It is hard to change a life-long way of looking at the world. My kids and husband sometimes still have to remind me when I launch into a tale of family woe.

Alone, when I recognize a negative thought slipping in, I speak thanksgiving out loud. It feels like it clears the air, and maybe it does.

The spiritual air.

Though I have worked hard to change, I’ve worked to alter patterns before that didn’t budge. The difference now is asking for God’s power, in the Holy Spirit, to transform me from the inside out.

And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:24 MSG

It feels so good now when I spontaneously speak thanksgiving, or my heart swells with gratitude.

by Jack H Thompson, Jr

Last week I drove across the middle of Florida. In the wide open expanse of sky, dark clouds billowed up and out – quite an impressive sight. After weeks of heavy rain, all the rivers and creeks were flooded way beyond their banks. I enjoyed the reflection of the clouds on bodies of water I never would have noticed at their normal levels. And on the return trip, after only one day of sunshine, the water had receded and exposed fresh green grass. A cow and two calves gleefully chomped on it. Those little delights made me smile.


Sometimes it’s a pair of sand hill cranes whooping over our house on their sunset trek to another pond. It can be as grand as the arrival of the roseate spoonbills or sunset on the water, or as simple as a butterfly or a delicate flower, or as striking as bare, weathered trees on a sand dune.

roseate spoonbills by Jack H  Thompson, Jr
Sandhill cranes in sunset by Jack H Thompson JR
Sunset on the water by Jack H Thompson, JR
Butterfly on Porterweed flower by Jack H Thompson, Jr
DSC_9084phalaenopsis orchid
dead trees on sand dune by Jack H Thompson, Jr

Today I enjoyed my Golden, Lily, and Sophie, who is staying with us while my oldest and her family are settled in a house, retrieving and swimming together, simply enjoying the process, no matter how many times I threw their toy.

happy Lily in the surf
Back home, tired from a busy day, they played on their backs.

Golden play
How can I not chuckle, and give thanks for the delight in these small things?

In The Power of Being Thankful, Joyce Meyer says,

I believe that if we’ll stay amazed at the things God is doing in our lives—even the little things—we’ll never be without hope. I encourage you to realize what you have, be thankful, and decide to live amazed…jaw-dropping, wide-eyed, “Wow! That was God!” amazed.

Some times are easier than others. Last week, caring for my granddaughters, I really didn’t feel well. I had way less energy than they did, so we built puzzles on the floor, then laid on top of them and snapped silly selfies together. We giggled at our photos, grateful for laughter together.

Grammi and A selfie
Grammi fun

When I’m dead tired, and everything in my body hurts, it’s hard to look around and appreciate what I see. But even then I can give thanks for a warm shower, dry towels and a sumptuously comfortable bed with clean sheets!

It’s always a choice.

Are you a half empty of half full person?
What is your struggle with keeping an attitude of gratitude?

Be still and know

Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas
Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

“Be still and know,” echoed in my mind long after the song ended. Still enough to see. Still enough to hear. Still enough to raise my cupped hands with my paltry offering, all that I have and all that I am in one handful. I offer it to God, hush my thoughts, and wait for the knowing.

And with the part of me that won’t quiet, I give thanks.

Thanks for the pain that stopped me in my tracking race.

Thanks for the awareness of heart pain of others.

Thanks for the dark night that shook my hands from their grasping after perfection.

Thanks for the grace of now.

And as I wait — finally stilled — the nail-scarred hand reaches out and receives my gift.

What can he do with so little? I can’t write like Ann Voskamp, or sing like Nicole Nordeman, or teach like Beth Moore.

But he smiles. And even as he did on the hillside over two millennia ago, he thanks the father and blesses. He transforms my offering into nourishment for others.

He whispers that no one can love my family or friends in the unique way that I can.

No one else can be me (or you).

receiving hands
receiving hands

My life, his gift.

I receive my life again from his hand, and give thanks as he feeds the poor and hurting and hungry from the little I offer him.

And in the process, I hear the mountains sing of their great Creator.

Majestic Swiss mountain
Majestic Swiss mountain

I see his power in the crest of the wave.

Maui wave
Maui wave

His perfection in the flight of the hummingbird.

Cloud Forest hummingbird
Cloud Forest hummingbird

I know his tenderness in the baby seal.

Espanola baby seal
Espanola baby seal

I feel his delight in the grace of my granddaughter in her gymnastics routine.

Granddaughter on bar
Granddaughter on bar

I taste his goodness on walks by snow melt streams,

Spring melt
Spring melt

and the sweetness of friends I’ve never seen, but love across the invisible lines of the Internet.

I don’t need to be on a hillside in Galilee to see the miracle.

Be still and know.

He is here.

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us Ps 46:1-3 The Message He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Have you had a Be Still season?

(To see the photos and the song, click on the title for the web version.) All photos property of Jack H Thompson. All rights reserved.