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.

clouds

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?

Is the world spinning crazy?

My heart is aching. It feels like the world is spinning crazy, how it must have for European and Russian Jews during WWII. Too many broken lives, hearts, homes, even whole villages.

Yet the parking lot at the new upscale mall is full. The most expensive homes move quickly on the market. Plates piled with food go back to the kitchen, to the garbage, while bored diners toy with their cocktails and the dessert menu. Landfills are loaded with the now upgraded gadgets — phones, tablets, computers, T.Vs, appliances … Storage units are a thriving business, for all the overflow of large homes, growing larger.

But are our souls growing larger?

Don’t we shrink every time we turn away from the pain across the ocean,

or across the street?

We watch headline news, men of the Cross, kneeling, their hands tied behind their backs. Blades shine in the hands of their captors, standing behind, ready to show the world how powerful they are. What they will not tolerate in the “new world” they are intent on creating. The price of being other.

After heads roll, and we flinch and turn away, the blades march on, raping, destroying, killing, crushing, stomping out any life they judge unworthy.

Hitler was a schoolboy compared to these.

When news of Nazi persecution of Jews leaked out, it fell on deaf ears. The first pictures of the death camps were deemed fakes, flukes. No one could do something so inhuman. Jews who fled the approaching German machine found little refuge in a comfortable world who couldn’t be bothered with the refuse of that little strutting man.

Until he threatened too close to home.

How close to home does it need to get for us to care about those being crushed now?

ISIS, ISIL

I admit, I haven’t know what I could do about a threat so large. I pray for the persecuted and displaced, for those who have lost their loved ones, but what is that among so many?

Ann Voskamp asked herself, and went to see. Please click on the links below to read her postings. Find out what is really happening beyond the sensational news.

And see how you can make a difference, without a trip to Iraq.

Be the difference. The hands and feet of Jesus to love a broken heart, body, people.

Ann goes to Iraq.
What we can do.

Sisterhood of World Bloggers Nomination

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardWe interrupt our usual programming with this special word:

I want to thank Zoe M McCarthy, author of Calculated Risk, for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

As part of the process, Zoe posed questions that you might be curious to know as well.

1. Why did you start blogging?

Initially I started because editors and agents insisted that writers build their own readership. I tossed around a lot of topics, until my youngest daughter asked me a series of questions and helped me see that I am all about healing and peace. Once I had that focus, I began to write, and haven’t looked back. I love it! Actually, I have spent more mental time on my blog than my fiction. I count it a privilege to share my little glimpses of peace.

 

2. What was the topic of the blog you wrote that had the greatest impact on your readers and why?

That is hard to gauge, since all I have to go by are comments and stats. According to them, my posts surrounding my mother’s death have touched many readers. We all face death and loss, and dealing with that reality is not something you find in typical chitchat, or T.V. sitcom. In Glimpse of Peace I share what I see and feel. That is often scary. (No. It’s always scary to be so transparent.) My point is more than the pain. We all have that. I try to share hope. Real hope.

 

3. What is your process from getting a blog idea to announcing your just submitted post?

As soon as I hit “Publish,” my mind begins seeking the next one. All week long, everything I read, see, hear and undergo runs through that filter. Sometimes a phrase will hit the mark, other times an experience, and sometimes it’s a picture, saying or Bible verse that speaks volumes to me. I have to refrain from thinking about “what they need,” but focus on what is most real to me. That is what resonates with others as well. Once I sit and start typing, the words usually flow. Then I’m on to finding the right photos, sometimes embedding my poetry or verses into a photo, and formatting the whole lot. I go through many revisions until I cry uncle and hit “Publish.”

 

4. What is something you’d like to learn how to do to improve your blog this year?

Mechanics is probably what I spend the most time on, and get frustrated with. I’m learning some html. That and the photos. My husband has thousands of great ones, so I spend way too much time going through pictures, formatting, etc. They have become integral to my blog. So I want to learn how to do it all without spending hours after I’ve finished the writing.

 

5. What kinds of blogs do you enjoy reading?

I love contemplative blogs with writing that drills through to my heart, like Ann Voskamp and Dani Di Lucca. I also spend lots of time on how-to’s, everything from Zoe McCarthy’s writer helpls, to how I can get more toner from my cartridge. I’m a funny mix of artistic and practical, so I run the gamut. My biggest problem is limiting myself. There isn’t enough time for all I’d like to read!

 

6. What are three words that best describe who you are?

Insightful, caring, contemplative

 

7. What book did you most enjoy reading last year and why?

That’s hard. I love books! This year I haven’t allowed myself a lot of fiction reading, other than those I judged for the Carol Awards or critiqued. I think The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life, by Dan B Allender has impacted me the most. It has a companion study guide which my daughters and I are doing together, by phone. It has been revealing and healing.

 

8. What is a non-blogging goal you’d like to accomplish this year?

I started to say that was easy, then realized it isn’t. My first goal is consistent physical wellness, so that I can accomplish the other, which is to finish editing my novels and get them in print, and finish writing my contemporary one, which has been awaiting my attention for too long.

 

9. When you’re not blogging, what do you enjoy doing?

• Taking Lily, my Golden Retriever, to the beach
• Singing and worshiping with my husband
• Time with my kids and grand kids and other family members
• Reading
• Writing
• Bible study
• Gardening
(not necessarily in that order)

 

10. What was a spiritual lesson you learned in the past year?

God is enough.

 

My nominees for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award are:

Dani Di Lucca at http://www.bloomingspiders.com
Keri Wyatt Kent at http://www.keriwyattkent.com/will-you-follow-the-voice-of-love/#comment-15764
Sandi Rog at http://sandirog.blogspot.com/
For pure fun:
Kelly Klepfer at http://kellyklepfer.blogspot.com/

 

Questions for my nominees:
1. What motivates you the most?
2. What are your goals for your blog?
3. Do you write anything outside of blogging?
4. What is your biggest challenge
5. Who do you admire the most?
6. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
7. What book has influenced you the most?
8. What is your greatest fear?
9. If you could accomplish one thing this year, what would you choose?
10. What is your greatest blessing?

Now it’s your turn, dear reader. Will you share your answers to any of those questions?