How Joy Breaks In (Despite Pain)

Joy to the World-1For some of us, the holidays are anything but joyful.

Losses of all kinds stab at unexpected moments. Loss of loved ones, loss of job or security, loss of health.

Anxiety-over finances, children, the future-can hang like a cloud and obscure the light.

Misunderstandings can suddenly blight relationships that seemed to be in full bloom.

But I’m finding that despite all these things–which are real, which need to be acknowledged–joy can break in.

Joy can break in for two reasons.

One, we have a God who does not mind our pain.

A God who, in fact, left the joys of heaven to face our pain-wracked world-firsthand. That’s what the Incarnation is all about.

Jesus, Son of God, came to share our pain, and ultimately, to bear the pain of the whole world in his sacrifice on the cross.

And he invites us to give him our pain. Give it all to him. Cry out to him!

Only he can fully bear it. He wants to. He doesn’t want us to struggle under the weight. That’s why he came.

Second reason joy can break in is: We always have a choice.

We can choose to return unkindness for unkindness, tit for tat.

Or we can choose to return love and forgiveness for unkindnesses and wrongs done to us.

We can choose to reach out from our own loneliness, and ease the loneliness of someone else.

In other words, we can choose love.

When we choose love, something wonderful happens.

Joy breaks in.

Joy despite the pain.

May you know joy this Christmas … and may it spread and flow throughout the coming year.

 

Invitation to Ask Your Question about Healing the Hurts of the Past


The Cracked Pot
One of the things I do in my Words to Profit business is conduct Virtual Book Tours for authors.

Normally I don’t talk a lot on this blog about the teleseminars I’m doing as a book publishing coach/consultant.

However, this time the author I’ll be interviewing has such a powerful message, I believe you will want to at least know about it and make your own decision as to whether it might bless you. Continue reading “Invitation to Ask Your Question about Healing the Hurts of the Past”

Reminder–You’re Invitation to the Abundant Gifts Virtual Book Tour Tuesday

I just wanted to remind you that the Abundant Gifts Virtual Book Tour is tomorrow night.

I have so many inspiring stories to share–and some challenging questions to answer–that I know you will be encouraged and uplifted. So please sign up now.

If you can’t think of a question, say “none” and sign up anyway, because some of the questions I answer might have been nagging at you in times past.

If you can’t listen live, or don’t want to pay long-distance charges (the call is otherwise free), you can listen to the replay via your computer shortly thereafter–but you only get the info about that if you sign up.

Hope to “see” you on the call tomorrow night! (Call in a few minutes early so you can say hello!)

One Story Turned around Her Marriage…

Andrea Kendrick, of Wheaton,IL, wrote to me this week about what Abundant Gifts has meant to her, and how one of the stories in particular turned around her marriage.

“When I received Abundant Gifts in 1999, I began using it as a daily devotional. I quickly discovered that I was not able to use it in that way. After each story was revealed, I wanted more and more. I began craving these stories of God’s grace, and quickly finished the whole book. These were my stories too! The details were different, but I related to each one, and learned invaluable lessons and truths.

“There was one in particular, however, that changed my whole life for the better. I will never forget it. Monday-week 6-inner gifts, “A Marriage Builder.”

“It begins with the wisdom of Oswald Chambers, saying that God never tires of bringing us back to the lessons that we need to learn, and continues with Diane sharing her own lesson learned. Diane gave me the gift of sharing her marital struggles, in an honest and brave way. I felt like I was reading about myself, and the way that I treated my own husband. Just as Oswald Chambers pointed out, God was bringing me back to the point of my personal struggle through Diane’s story. I fell to my knees, and asked God for the strength to affirm my wonderful husband instead of tearing him down. I had been married for 14 years at that point, and I was able to clearly see the damage that I had done.

“I can happily now say that the following eight years of my marriage have been so much better, in so many ways, thanks to the gift I was given when I first read Diane’s wonderful book. I have been able to use the book as a daily devotional and be inspired over and over again by these real life stories. I don’t think that I will ever be able to thank Diane enough for writing this book. It opened my eyes, and changed my heart, which in turn, saved my marriage. Now that’s truly an abundant gift!”

If you would like to hear more stories about God at work–or perhaps, share your own–please sign up for the upcoming live, 60-minute Virtual Book Tour on Tuesday, June 26. If you have a question, I hope I answer it on the live call. If you don’t, just say “none” so you can get to the page with the call-in information.

You will also be sent a link, via email, to download a resource for keeping your own gifts journal, when you sign up.

I can’t wait to share the stories I have. You will be inspired!

Hope to “see” you on the live call on Tuesday! (But if not, there will be a replay page, so sign up anyway.)

Mother’s Day, God’s Way

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
–Willa Cather

I didn’t expect a gift from God for Mother’s Day this year. But on my usual early morning walk, I came upon a crabapple tree in full, fragrant bloom and a cottontail rabbit peacefully grazing beneath it. As the bunny went about its business as God intended, I was transfixed. I remembered how, as a child, seeing a creature in the wild brought a sense of wonder. Cherishing this memory with others of long ago, I went home and changed for church. Entering the sanctuary, a friend pinned a gorgeous corsage on my dress. “I had an extra,” she said. Extra? I never knew why, and it didn’t matter. I had already received two special gifts that day!

At home after lunch, David went outside to play and Christine napped. Gene and I made the most of our two quiet hours. I practiced the piano, then picked up the newspaper and saw an article that seemed written for me. Continue reading “Mother’s Day, God’s Way”

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.

Why Thanksgiving is the Healthiest Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What could be better than a whole day devoted to food, friendship, and gratitude?

In fact, Thanksgiving is actually the healthiest holiday we have.  And I’m not just talking about the turkey and the side dishes.

Thanksgiving is the healthiest holiday because the benefits of gratitude are measurable.

In a WebMD feature, Elizabeth Heubeck summarized some of the health benefits of giving thanks. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons conducted a study on gratitude, finding that grateful people–those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind–have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” Emmons told WebMD.

Gratitude acts as a stress buster. An inability to deal with stress is attributed to up to 90 percent of all doctor visits, and is linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have a tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.

I know this to be true in my own life. I keep what I call my “gifts journal,” noting the things that felt like gifts on a given day. As I thank God for these gifts, my focus changes from any problems I may have to the love that inspired such gifts of grace. I can tell you, this one simple action has totally transformed my life. Not only did it cure me of a postpartum depression years ago, but it has continued to relieve stress and be the source of much joy and strength.

Gratitude acts as an immune booster. When you’re grateful, you also tend to be optimistic. According to Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” In one, researchers compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress. They round that, by midterm, the students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained a higher number of white blood cells (which protect the immune system), compared with their more pessimistic classmates.

Optimism also has a positive health impact on people whose health is already compromised. In separate studies, patients with AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.

So as you partake of the wonderfully healthy foods of Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll also take time to feed your soul and strengthen your body by recounting all the things you’re grateful for.

And don’t stop at Thanksgiving Day, either! (I have s sample journal you can use to keep track of your “abundant gifts” throughout the year. )

For more health benefits of gratitude, visit my Healing Heart Issues blog for an article on the latest research: