Our Gift to God … in a Word

This is the time of year when we “count our blessings.”

As you think of all the gifts God has given you, do you ever wonder what you can give back? How you can express your gratitude?

There is one thing that makes God smile. That, perhaps, is what he’s after when he gives us so much.

Trust.

He wants our trust.

Trust is our gift to God.

Does this make it any easier for you to trust, to know it’s your gift to God?

“Disguised Gift” for Me, “Abundant Gift” for You?

I’ve often said, some of the best gifts are not always apparent at first.

They don’t appear to be gifts at all, at first. However, I’m firmly convinced (having tested this for years now), that anything can be a gift if we affirm it as such in faith.

Recently, I learned that Abundant Gifts is going out of print. This is somewhat sad for me, but I am absolutely certain it’s a gift. I know that God has plans still for Abundant Gifts; they may just take a different form.

I am convinced that God is honored when we hear and share each other’s stories of God’s goodness in our everyday situations. That is what Abundant Gifts, and this blog, are all about.

It’s also what an upcoming special event is all about. On June 26, you are invited to a “Virtual Book Tour” to listen, via telephone, to the live event in which you’ll get to hear questions answered, as well as some of the amazing stories “behind the stories,” as it were. Funny and strange things that happened when writing, publishing, and/or promoting the book, and my favorite–stories of God at work in the lives of readers. I do believe you will be inspired!

Of course, you also have the opportunity to get the book at a special discount while you still can. (It makes a great gift, and I will sign them personally. You can get your Christmas shopping done in June!)

You will be sent details about the event, but if you’re not familiar with how teleseminars work, it’s simple. At the appointed time, you call the telephone number (the call is free except for your normal long-distance charges). You’ll be prompted to key in the code you’ll be given, and then you’ll be able to listen to me answer questions and talk about
the book.

Even if you can’t make the live call, please go to the page now and sign up. There will be a replay page you can listen to after the call, from your computer, at no charge. Signing up allows you to get the information about the recording.

I hope we can “meet” the evening of June 26!

ikoni

Using Our Gifts, Gifting Others

This past week, I received two letters from readers of Abundant Gifts .

One was from Nigeria. A young woman said she had picked up my book when she went to a pharmacy to get drugs for a sore throat. (A pharmacy in Africa! You never know where your book will show up.) She picked up the book, leafed through it, and put it down. Her fiance, who was with her, bought it for her as a gift. “I was so thrilled and I cherish the book so much,” she wrote.

(By the way, the letter was dated 12-04-07. Am I in the Twilight Zone?)

The other letter was from a woman who prayed daily for me as I was writing Abundant Gifts , way back in 1997/98. She said she is still reading Abundant Gifts and–get this–still praying for me and my family every day!

I want to honor this dear saint. Her name is Barbara Kuehn, we met through a mutual friend, now deceased, who also told Barbara about my book and my writing. Barbara started praying for me every day as I wrote, and–wonder of wonder–she has prayed for me every day since!

I am humbled and honored beyond words.

Folks, this is why I write.

Isn’t this why we do anything we’ve been gifted to do? When we do, we touch lives, and they touch our life back.

Barbara Kuehn’s gift is, in her own words, “the gift of intercession and encouragement, and that’s what I want to do.” Her gift has blessed others and it’s blessed her: “God is so good that he gave me these to do because of my circumstances and it has been awesome.”

Awesome, indeed.

Room for All Kinds

I was frustrated, not for the first time, by a particular person. Someone who does things very differently than me–in my opinion, too slowly, or without enough regard for reality. This person was unconcerned, in my mind, about what was important, and focused only on the negative. I did not want to deal with the person or the situation, but circumstances being what they were, I had to.

I knew it was I who probably had the wrong perspective. So I took the matter to God in prayer. And this time, I think I heard a clear word in my spirit. A clear message.

I had recently been to a church retreat called “The Kingdom and the Poor.” One of the most powerful moments of the retreat was when the leader had various people simply read the scriptures that mentioned ‘the kingdom of God” and another set that mentioned “the poor.” No comments, just the scriptures, one right after another, cascading over us, word by word constructing a picture of God’s vision and God’s heart.

When I went to prayer about my attitude toward this particular “difficult” person, the words that imprinted on my soul were,  “In my kingdom there is room for all kinds.”  And the sense was that, not only is there room, but “all kinds” were welcome, honored, cherished.

How different from the world! The world dictates membership into The Accepted: you must be successful, productive, rich, beautiful, powerful, productive, useful. The whole advertising industry, to mention only one, is built upon reinforcing this. Why do people strive so hard to look as young as possible, to acquire as many possessions as possible, to become as successful as possible? Not really to get or become the thing itself–beautiful, rich, or successful–but, I think anyway, to become Accepted.

God’s way is different. God says you’re accepted just because he made you. I think he actually likes people who are “different” in some way, who have some sort of handicap or difficulty. His compassion is activated by our need, and his nature is to be compassionate, kind, loving, gracious.

“In my kingdom there is room for all kinds.” The words changed my attitude toward my Difficult Person. Knowing God loves that person, welcomes that person without asking for any change at all, humbled me, challenged me to do the same.

It also made me look at myself, at my own lacks and faults, and feel very, very glad that “in God’s kingdom, there is room for all kinds.”

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

Is It as Blessed to Receive as To Give?

We often hear Jesus’ words quoted, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”

In our materialistic world, that’s a good thing to be reminded of.

But consider this: Might it be just as blessed to receive?

Imagine offering a gift to someone. You genuinely want to give that person this gift.

But she refuses. “No, thank you,” she says, even though in her eyes you sense she would really like to say yes.

How do you feel?

Now, imagine offering your gift to someone who receives it with delight and gratitude.

Don’t you feel blessed in the second case?

If we refuse a gift someone offers us, we rob them of the joy of giving. We break the cycle: gift offered, gift received, receiver blessed, giver blessed from receiver’s gratitude.

We have just come from the special day of Thanksgiving. In some ways, isn’t Thanksgiving about receiving? To acknowledge God’s blessings is to receive them fully. Our gratitude is our act of receiving that blesses God, even as He has blessed us.

In this season on giving, let us not only give with joy, but receive with joy as well. Let us remember to complete the beautiful giving cycle … whichever end we’re on.

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

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