On Asking God Questions

by Diane Eble

Do you ever ask God questions?

I do, all the time. At least one per week, usually many more.

Last week, I shared with you a question I had. The question, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

At the time, it was a burning question. One I’d had for a long time. It’s not like I didn’t know the “right” answer. In my head, I did. But on a deeper level, on the level where you really know and never doubt again—on that level, I didn’t know.

But you know what? Much as I’d pondered the question, somehow, I’d never really asked it of God. Once I did, I had that deep, soul-satisfying answer I sought.

Within 24 hours.

I have heard it said that the size of the question determines the size of the results. The question of why Jesus had to die is at the heart of Christianity—a big question. The result was a deep sense of certainty, a renewed appreciation at the depth of my being of what the Savior of the world did for me. For you. For the whole world.

The answer was simple (most profound answers usually are). Though we can do much to “improve” ourselves and even the world, it’s not a question of being better.

It’s a question of a relationship with the Creator and Center of the universe, who is a personal Being and who is totally, utterly perfect in every way. That Being wants a relationship with the creatures he made in his own image.

Problem is, the creatures aren’t perfect. Many don’t care a whit about their Creator. Fact is, most of them want to be Creators themselves. And they’re very busy working very hard to try to make that happen.

We have this innate desire to be perfect, it seems. (Perhaps, because we crave the lost union with the One who is perfect?)

Somehow, we can’t quite pull it off. So far nobody’s answers have convinced me that we are capable of making ourselves perfect, or even really good (though we keep trying).

Jesus died because human beings can’t make themselves perfect enough to stand in the presence of a pure, holy God. He paid the penalty we deserved for rejecting God and choosing our own way—the penalty of death. When Jesus conquered death by rising again, he paved the way for imperfect human beings to stand before a holy God. In great joy, I might add (as Scripture does). It is the same joy that Jesus fixed his eyes on to get him through his terrible suffering (see Hebrews 12:2). And he shares it with us!

So, I asked the question, and now the answer has come to my heart, not just my head.

I have had so many other questions, personal questions that no one but God could answer. When I take them to him, I wait expectantly for an answer. It’s a wonderful thing to ask God a question, a burning question, and await the answer.

In my experience, he always does answer. Sometimes the answer is, “I can’t reveal that to you yet,” but that in itself is an answer. He’s given me that answer many times, and it brings peace to my heart as I trust in his timing.

When I was young, I suffered rather severe acne. If you can believe it, I still have oily skin and acne, in middle age! I told Gene when he buries me, he’ll have to tuck my acne cream in the casket. For years I asked God, “Why have I had acne all but 11 years of my life?”

Slowly the answer, the blessing has been revealed. Because I had acne, I read all I could about skin care. I learned at an early age that keeping in good health was one of the best things one can do. So I disciplined myself to avoid sugar and fatty foods, to enjoy eating right, to exercise. The by-product was, I didn’t struggle with a weight problem. I also learned which were the purest products to use (and saved tons of money on skin care products and cosmetics, I’m sure).

Recently, someone complimented me on my complexion. I nearly fell out of my chair. My self-image never included “nice complexion.” She asked what my secret is. I said, “Acne.” The curse turned out to be a blessing.

What are your questions? Have you taken them to God specifically? I encourage you to do so, and then to watch and wait. You never know when or how or from where the answers will come. That’s the joy of it. God has answered my questions in so many creative ways. If you’re looking expectantly for an answer, you will recognize it when it comes. And it will bring the gifts of joy and peace with it.

Copyright (c) 2006 by Diane Eble. All rights reserved.

 

 

But Did He Have to DIE?

I have just returned from a service in which the focus was on a single event, and event that is at the heart of the Christian faith: the death of Jesus Christ.

A question haunts me.

Seems like every day I get some sort of advertisement for a way to become a better person. Richer, healthier, more positive, more focused, more successful, more loving. The self-help industry booms, and promises abound of the way to a new life, free of all the “negative energy” that weighs us down. The latest touts 11 Principles to get whatever you want in life and build a better world (in that order, I wonder?).

So, the question nags me: If we can make ourselves better on our own, did Jesus really have to die?

That question haunted Jesus himself, in a garden just before his horrific murder. Continue reading “But Did He Have to DIE?”

A Gift of Wisdom for Mothers

As you know if you’ve read this blog, I’ve been working for some time (too long!) on a book on personality type and mothering, with co-author Janet Penley.

I’m very happy to report, the book is now finished!

It’s called MotherStyles: Using Personality Type To Discover Your Parenting Strengths, and is published by DaCapo Lifelong Books. It is available on amazon and in bookstores as of NOW!

What will this book do for you (or a mother you know)?

Well, first I’ll tell you what this material did for me, starting way back in 1993 when I first met Janet and started pestering her to write such a book. Understanding personality type–especially my own, my husband’s, and my children’s–has enabled me to appreciate and build on the strengths of each of our types.

I also understand where we need outside help or perspective to shore up our weaknesses. I grasp our family dynamics better–particularly the greatest source of my ongoing frustration. Because Gene and I are the same type, I am often stretched in opposite directions, just toprovide the balance that every family system needs.

I draw from the material in this book, about energy management,
family dynamics, self-care and more, literally every day.

Here are some comments from some other moms who have also
found this material helpful:

“What a wonderful tool the concept of type is! I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have this new paradigm in my head and to feel its implications seeping in, slowly filling reservoirs thathave been empty for as long as I can remember. Thank you.—“.Irene

“I now understand exactly why so many activities I have tried to enjoy did not work, why particular interpersonal frictions have occurred and why I generally feel like a misfit with most people. I now have a tool to make better choices in my life, to avoid being swayed by other peoplegetting enjoyment from something.”–Wendy

“I learned this information when my children were about ten and it was like the Red Sea parting. I could see my own preferred path to take through mothering. It showed me how to be happy with myself and gave me the confidence to go with my strengths. Instead of saying, I can’t orI don’t,, now I say, I’m very good at…. “–Joan

“This information has helped me to understand the differences between me and family members (and friends and other mothers at my kids’ school, and co-workers, and employers and employees, and—fill in the blank), so that my relationship with each of them is better/smoother/more forgiving/better communication/more
successful.”–.Mary

“I come from a family where the mom is one type, and one of the children is a completely different type. If only both were aware of the MotherStyles method. I truly believe they would have a much closer relationship. I also believe that my sibling would be a much more confident person.”–Anne

Give yourself, or a mom you know, an early Mothers Day gift. Get your copy of MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths either from your local bookstore (I know Borders has it, but call first to make sure), or get it from amazon.com for a 35 percent discount.

To happier and more effective parenting,

Diane

The Gift of Creative Vision

by Diane Eble

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blue prints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill

I’m holding in my hands a copy of a book.

The title is MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths.

The authors are listed as “Janet P. Penley with Diane Eble.”

It is my tenth book (eleventh, if you count the compilation called The Happy BirthdayBook , as amazon does). It is Janet’s first.

As I page through this book, so familiar yet new now that I hold the designed, actual book in my hands, I think about vision. About the power of a dream, of even passing desires. Somehow, they all have power. Energy to create reality.

I think about what a gift it is to create. We co-create our lives, in tandem with God. And as we create other things as well–a book, a meal, a dress, a wreath, a new marketing plan, a baby–we express our essential nature: “made in the image of God,” the original Creator.

We can create alone, but more often, we create with other people. In this case, MotherStyles was born of two women’s vision, and one woman’s major life work.

Although Janet Penley began her work with mothers in 1988, the book MotherStyles was conceived, you might say, in 1993, when I heard Janet speak at a mothering group, then called F.E.M.A.L.E. (Formerly Employed Mothers At the Leading Edge), now called Mothers & More.

Janet spoke about 16 different mothering styles, based on personality theory developed by Carl Jung and popularized by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI). I had just gotten certified for giving the MBTI myself, and was writing a book at the time that also talked about personality type.

I stood in line to meet Janet after her talk was over. Told her how excellent her presentation was, how I’d just become certified to give the MBTI myself, how all this personality type stuff had been like a huge light bulb of self-understanding for me. I also bought her self-published M.O.M.S. Handbook.

In the days that followed, I devoured Janet’s Handbook. I called her, asked if I could interview her for my book, A Life You Can Love. Thus began our friendship as she graciously offered her insights for my book.

I told her she should consider writing a “regular book” about Mothers of Many Styles. The Handbook was fine, as far as it went, but I knew there was a great book here. Something nobody had done before, something millions of mothers needed. I knew how much personality type theory had helped me. I knew how to get published. I’d help her write the thing even, if she wanted. I just wanted to see her material “out there,” enlightening other mothers on a grander scale.

Well, she wasn’t ready. We kept in touch, off and on. I sent her books I’d written as they came out. She was especially supportive of Abundant Gifts. Every so often, I’d ask if she had any more thoughts of writing the Mothers of Many Styles book. She always had very good reasons for “not yet.”

Then, in November 2003, she called me and said, “I think I’m ready to write the book. Can we talk about it?”

And so we met and dreamed over lobster bisque and salad about what this book might be, and what my role might be.

We solidified an agreement a few months later, and spent the rest of 2004 trying to get a handle on the book. Did a lot of market research, a lot of talking. Too much talking, perhaps. It seemed like we were going around in circles, and sometimes frustration surfaced.

Yet I’ve come to trust the creative process. Sometimes dreams take a while to gather enough energy to manifest into a tangible product. Even though it felt like we were going nowhere, what was really happening was, the vision was gathering both shape and momentum. This was a necessary step in the creative process, called “assimilation.” The book was incubating, growing unseen and hidden from our consciousness, within both of us.

Finally, by December 2004, we both felt the impatience of The Next Creative Step. Incubation was over, it was time for action! Reality cooperated. We found an agent. We pulled together a proposal, outline, sample chapters. Within three months, the book had a publisher.

(Interesting side note: Years ago, I registered a conscious desire to be published someday by Addison-Wesley. That publisher no longer exists … it was bought out by The Perseus Group, of which Da Capo Lifelong Books is a division … and Da Capo “happens” to be the publisher of MotherStyles.)

With a contract in hand, we continued writing the book. The Action phase, from when we started the proposal until when we finished the manuscript, took nine months, January through September of 2005.

(Another interesting side note: All my books have taken me nine months to actually write. No matter what else was or was not going on in my life, no matter how long the book—it always seems to take me nine months.)

So now, here it is, finally. MotherStyles, complete and finished, going out into the world 13 years after the spark of “conception,” that first connection Janet and I made. Conceived, birthed and launched in its own time, not according to the timetable of the “parents” but according to a deeper sense of timing.

I decide on a quiet celebration: I make myself a cup of peppermint cocoa. I stir flavored chocolate shavings into steaming milk, then pour it into a mug with “Texas” on it in quiet acknowledgment of Janet, who now lives in Texas. I savor the sweetness of the drink, the moment.

Like a child, each book is unique, special, loved for its own sake. Each is launched into the world with high hopes of fulfilling its purpose, a purpose that somehow seems divine.

I hope this book will outlive us both, but one never knows.

So now, a blessing:

Go, MotherStyles, go and fulfill your destiny. Be an inspiration, a gift, to many, many mothers. As it blessed Janet and me to write you, go and bless others with these truths. Set them free to mother with their best selves, in enlightened energy.

And you, dear reader, if you have a creative project you dream of bringing to life, take heart. Feed your dream, don’t let it starve. Patiently let it gather energy in its own time. Pay attention to the sparks, trust the process. Someday you’ll hold in your hands the tangible form of your original vision, and marvel at the miracle of the creative process. And as Janet says when she looks at the published book hot off the presses, “In a strange way, it feels like it’s always been there sitting on my desk; as familiar to me as my child’s face.”

MotherStyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths book cover

“Mom, You Just Discovered the Meaning to Life!”

(But Will It Lead to Riches?)

by Diane Eble

It was bedtime one Monday night, and my 10-year-old daughter, Christine, and I were chatting as we often do while she gets ready for bed.

As she brushed her long brown hair, she suddenly said, “Mom, what is the meaning of life? I mean, like, why are we even here?”

Dumfounded, I just stared at her for a second.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t asking those kinds of questions until at least age 12—and I thought I was precocious….

Fortunately, my pastor had just happened to mention the answer to the first question to the Westminster Confession in his sermon the day before. (Gift!) Also fortunately, I had been listening—and I remembered now.

“The purpose of life,” I said, “is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

She looked at me, big blue eyes round in amazement. Then she shouted joyfully, “Mom, that’s it! Yes! That is the answer! Of course. What else could it be?”

We talked about that some. I emphasized the “enjoy him forever,” since this is something it seems to me so many Christians miss. Living a life of faith is not about going through the motions of dry duty. It’s about life, true life, abundant life, life because we’re connected to the very Source of True Life.

“Mom,” Christine said excitedly, “you’re going to make us rich. You know the answer everyone is looking for!”

(Note here our failure as Christian parents. She obviously did not know the Westminster Confession, had no clue that I was not the initiator of this profound answer. )

I gently told her this was not my own brilliant idea, but that it comes from the Bible and early church leaders who distilled the biblical truths into some very good questions and answers, and that this was one of the most basic because, as she said, this is the question everyone wants answered.

I also told her this answer has been around for a couple of thousand years, and that in a way, sharing this answer with other people, in life and word, is what every Christian is asked to do. It’s what my own books all boil down to.

“You mean, then, it won’t make us rich?” she asked in disappointment.

“That’s doubtful,” I said.

It’s actually not a bad question. If we Christians supposedly have The Answer that everyone is dying to know, why aren’t people paying us to learn it?

More pointedly, why aren’t Christians acting as if this is the Answer to Life?

To me, it’s an astounding idea that the Creator of this vast and amazing universe, from the farthest flung planet to the mysterious force that holds all cells together (a quark, perhaps?)—this Creator God says (if you believe the Bible, as I do) that he actually desires a personal relationship with each and every individual, and that he made a way for that to happen.

A way that cost him the most precious thing he had—the life of his only Son, who somehow, in some unfathomable energy of Relationship, is fully God but became fully human, too, and died a human death and rose a divine conqueror—all so that these human beings, made in his very own image, could know him in their daily life, and then join him in some unimaginable paradise that we all unconsciously pine for every day of our lives … and live there forever.

See, that truth just floors me. To experience it daily, as I do whenever I open my heart (and I’m aware of it even when I don’t, there’s no escaping it)—that is something I never quite get over.

Not too long ago I attended a retreat at my church on “The Kingdom of God and the Poor.” One of the most powerful things done there was a reading of all the scriptures that included a reference to “the kingdom of God.”

One thing that struck me: how many times it was mentioned that one must become like a little child to enter, or receive, the kingdom of God.

I’ll leave you to ponder what all that means, as I will do. But … might not Christine’s response to my words about the meaning of life be a good example of what Jesus meant?

She didn’t debate it, doubt it, dissect it. She recognized the truth instantly and received it joyfully.

Jesus himself once prayed, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Interesting also that a few verses down, Jesus also made his famous invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy ad my burden is light.”

A child does not carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Neither, Jesus says, must I.

In that there is much needed rest.

(Scriptures above come from Matthew 11: 25-26, 28-30, New International Version)

Copyright (c) 2006 by Diane Eble. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the Abundant Gifts Blog!

I write this web log as a means to share more Abundant Gifts type stories, keep you posted on the kinds of “gifts” God is giving me—from recipes to the most profound “disguised gifts” that only become apparent as gifts later.

I may also pass on news of interesting books, articles, other sites, even products that I believe will add in some way to the abundance in your life. Anything that has enriched my life in some way, that I believe will enrich yours also, will show up here.

Feel free to post comments, share your stories, pass on links of your own to anything that has felt like a gift to you. My dream is that this virtual space will become a community where people share the many-splendored gifts that a generous God lavishes onto their lives.

Abundant blessings,

Diane

Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions