Thanks for Giving

picasso quotes

According to artist Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

I believe writers, musicians, and other artists have been purposely blessed with creative talents so that they may bless others.

I have been blessed beyond measure to meet many artists whose works have made the world a better place. Some of these artists probably don’t remember me, while others have become valued friends. Either way, they have influenced my life with their spiritual gifts.

I would like to express my gratitude to a few of them.

Thanks, Ann Patchett, for giving me an opportunity years ago to witness first-hand the generosity of talented people. When I attended an NCTE conference at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, you “gifted” each of us secondary teacher attendees with a free stack of your books. I felt like a kid in a candy store; and to this day, I continue to appreciate your works, your Parnassus store, and your support of the creative world.

Thanks, Ron Block of Alison Krauss & Union Station, for giving me inspiration. You sat beside me at a writers’ conference luncheon. We shared our stories. You listened. You recommended the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I was blessed by your poetry, your empathy, and your kindness.

Thanks, Tom Brantley and Becky Buller Haley, for giving me music, for sharing the songs of your souls with me. You’ve taught me to play the violin, and you’ve generously shown your gift of patience.

Thanks, Lisa Patton, for giving me acknowledgement. I had the chutzpah to introduce myself to you at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. I invited you to make a guest appearance at my school, and you befriended me, a nobody. On page 294 of your book Yankee Doodle Dixie, you ACKNOWLEDGED me! You acknowledged ME as an important person! You are a treasure!

acknowledgements

Thanks, Amy Parker, for giving me encouragement. By chance, or maybe not, I walked into the Murfreesboro Barnes & Noble bookstore and saw you signing your books. We talked, and we became friends. My youngest niece learned to say, “Night-night” because of you, Amy Parker. You asked me to become a part of your “street team,” and you have since become a major influence in my writing journey. You have generously endorsed my own book. What a gift!

Amy, you also introduced me to your friend Laura L. Smith. Laura, you gifted me with your book Skinny, and it became the basis for a Bible study with my church youth group. My high school students were eager to return to class each week because your book spoke to them! Thanks, Laura, for giving us good role models.

Bob Hostetler, I have been honored to hear you speak at writers’ conferences. Your book The Bard and the Bible inspired me to start a Sunday school class that has grown into a huge blessing for me and our class and our church. Thanks, Bob, for giving us your powerful insights.

I could mention many, many other writers and artists whose one good turn has led to another in my life. Like a pebble in a pond, I have been blessed repeatedly by those who have generously shared their gifts. In turn, I have tried to bless others.

In his book The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters, Andy Andrews encourages us to use our spiritual gifts to bless others. He says, “You have been created in order that you might make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.”

The apostle Paul also promotes the importance of recognizing our spiritual gifts and generously using them to make the world a better place.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”—Romans 12:6-8

Like Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, we should all be willing to share our gifts, whatever they may be, with humility and grace. When Mr. Beaver leads the children across the bridge he has built, “he had a sort of modest expression on his face—the sort of look people have when you are visiting a garden they’ve made or reading a story they’ve written.”

Mr. Beaver must have heard Paul’s advice to be devoted to one another in love and to honor others above ourselves.

In Jean Petersen’s new picture book Kind Soup, a young girl and her mommy make a delicious soup filled with the fruits of the spirit. This book teaches an important lesson:  “The best part of making [the soup] is the feeling you get when you share it.”

kind soup

How have you shared your spiritual gifts today?

Have you written some profound prose or kissed a cut knee or held open a car door for someone?

Whether you are a NYT bestselling author or a parent or an Uber driver, you have the opportunity to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You have an opportunity to give to others.

If you will harvest the fruits of the spirit in your own life and then share your bounty with others, you will be a blessing, and you will be blessed.

If you think you have nothing to give, remember the words of the song “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Gustav Holst:

What can I give Him?
Poor as I am.
If I were a shepherd,
I would give a lamb.

If I were a wise man,
I would do my part,
But what can I give Him?
Give him my heart.

What you give to Him, you give to others.

Thanks for giving.

Proverbs 11:25; 2 Corinthians 9:11

“The object of art is to give life a shape.” –William Shakespeare

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