i wish i had her eyes…

Written by Mandy Thompson

She’s just a girl with a guitar. And, in a perfect world, Mandy would spend her days writing songs and soaking up the sun. But, life is life. And, while not perfect, her life is good. She serves as Director of Congregational Services at The Chapel, in Brunswick GA. If you asked her about her position, she’d say her main course involves developing worship experiences, with a side of creative design and social media for dessert. Tasty!

March 6, 2012

1000 gifts, ann voskamp, mandy thompson, art

Original artwork by Mandy, inspired by a passage in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.

The pre-spring afternoon was warm, layered in pollen, and begging me to go to the beach. But instead, I sit on my couch watching the sparrow play in our front yard, with the dryer drowning out the singing birds outside.

I pass the time by working my way through Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I’ve been reading this book for months, not because it’s a hard read, but because it’s worth the sipping. Slowly. Like warm tea, her words are smooth and soothing. Worthy of a full-sensory experience.

She’s telling the story of the harvest moon and the running out the door into the field and the bowing down and raising up. “See beauty and we know it in the marrow, even if we have no words for it: Someone is behind it, in it.”

Yes, Ann. Yes. As an artist I feel this deeply. I am moved by beauty, both created and Created. And I’m moved to create beauty in and out of my own life, with near-compulsion.

I take in her experience as if I’m watching a movie. I can see the moment. I can see the moon as it rises and her eyes as they look toward heaven itself. I wish I had her eyes, that see God in the Created.

She says, “Looking is evidence of the believing.” These words settle into me. Deeply. Looking—not seeing. What a comforting way to describe belief. My mind jumps to the verse that describes faith as the substance of things not yet seen. Not yet seen. We can believe even when we can’t see, right Ann?

She talks about the snake-bitten wilderness wanderers. They look at the snake raised high on a pole, and they are healed. Simple. Yet miraculous.

I follow this trail of logic she is walking me on with ease. I want to see a pole. I need a pole. I need to be told that my aesthetic nature is a “looking” for the Creator-Beauty. And that looking is evidence of faith. Her words are like water.

Then she invites Tozer to the conversation and I’m left dizzy: “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

But what if I can’t see Him? I can’t see Him, Ann. I can’t see Him… Am I among the accursed? The bitten? The deceived? I do not know who or where I am, but I do know I am not alone. There are a multitude of us wanderers. I have read their words. St. John of the Cross talks about a Silent God and Dark Night of the Soul. And I’m learning more about Mother Teresa’s own sense of affliction and blindness to the presence of God: “I look and do not see.” I feel less alone when reading their stories.

But then Tozer says faith is seeing. I don’t know what to do with his words. I don’t know how to find my “eyes that see and ears that hear.” I don’t know where I am on this journey, and I don’t know if I will ever see what Ann wants to show me.

The only thing I am sure of is this: for the sake of my soul, I will not stop looking.


  1. Stephanie Spencer

    I can definitely relate to this. I had a long period of longing for God without finding Him. I hesitate to call it a “dark night” because it wasn’t really a bad or depressing time, just frighteningly and infuriatingly quiet. During that time, I clung to Deuteronomy 8:2-3, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness
    these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in
    your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna,
    which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man
    does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth
    of the LORD.”

    I felt as though I was in the wilderness. It was humbling. But it also made me hungry for God. It made me realize what I was missing when I didn’t have His dynamic presence in my life. For that, I am grateful.

    “The only thing I am sure of is this: for the sake of my soul, I will not stop looking.” Absolutely. Keep longing.


    (P.S. Just found this site through a high calling tweet. Glad to have stumbled across your post!)

    • mandythompson

      Thank you for sharing this encouragement, Steph. I like how you described it as “frighteningly” quiet. It is kind of scary…

  2. Leslie J. Rowe

    Mandy, Mandy, Mandy, I have to work and you are far away but if I had my instant-gratification-way this moment you and I would be whisked away to some couch-laden coffee shop with our copies of 1,000 Gifts and we’d sit there and just gorge ourselves on the words in her book. Wasn’t it amazing? I gave that book to friends for Christmas and it is actually polarizing; there are those who don’t have time for the poetry and those who gulp it down like water on a blistering day. I was the gulpy one. 

    I know that wasn’t the point of your post–it was the searching–but I just had to comment. How does that Ann SEE things that way? How does she WRITE it that way? It must be God-in-her, Emmanuel, God-with-us. I pray your desert season opens wide to pools of Him. What’s that verse about, the one that says something about the valley of tears to pools of…something. Too lazy to go look it up. Maybe pools of refreshing. All I know is that God breathed and stars flung into eternity one day, and wow, He’s amazing. 

    Thanks for the post.

    • mandythompson

      🙂 I’m glad you commented on your reading experience, and absolutely love your sincerity and honesty. Voskamp has quite a provocative style! 

  3. pastordt

    Oh dear Mandy, you will not see what “Ann wants to show you” because you are not Ann. You, beautiful writer and creator – you are MANDY. You will see God in the way that God has chosen to wire you to experience the Holy. There is a wonderful multiplicity to the ways in which our God self-reveals – always, always through Jesus the Christ. And the Word written. But you will meet God in the life you have been given – and the key is to always keep looking. God is faithful, God is present. And the glimpses will likely be very, very brief. But oh-so-wonderful. What is asked of us is faithfulness. And that means always looking. You are so on the right track.


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i wish i had her eyes…

by Mandy Thompson time to read: 3 min