Monday, February 23, 2015

FREE Ebook!

Hurry over to Shannon Vannatter's blog to interact for a chance to win a free ebook! Learn how Chuck and I met! A real-life love story . . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Light in the Hallway


            Fear ruled my life as a child. Since I didn’t know how to process the death of my brother and the grief reaction of my parents, anger erupted over seemingly inconsequential things. Doorknobs left holes in walls; biscuits flew across the table like torpedoes; and nightmares plagued my sleep. Thus, night after night I dreaded going to bed. Every shadow, every creak represented a bigger-than-life monster.
            At four, I didn’t realize the real monster was grief and loss. That’s what triggered my “unexplained” anger and fear, which I learned later my parents longed to address but didn’t know how. At best, Mama tried to soothe me with scripture, then left the light on in the hallway. Invariably, however, I’d end up terrified, screaming, “Mama, Mama!” until finally I heard her voice at the bottom of the stairs. “Come on down,” she’d say, her tone laced with exhaustion and frustration.
            Embarrassed, but relieved, I’d creep down the lighted steps and crawl in bed beside Mama. Daddy would grunt and roll over, never acknowledging my fears. I guess he thought Mama was best for such things. Little did he know how much I needed him—to take me on his knee, to hold me, to assure me, to listen to my fears, to really hear me.
            Mama would ask, “What are you so afraid of?” Her twisted features left me feeling less than adequate, like something was really, really wrong with me.
            “I don’t know,” I’d reply, equally frustrated with myself. I felt like shrinking into the covers, dissolving, becoming invisible. Anything to make the horror go away and my parents think better of me. Because, surely, they were disgusted with me.
            Eventually, my nighttime trauma dissipated. Somewhat. It’s likely I only learned how to mask my fears. Without intervention in the form of loving, godly guidance to help unearth the root causes of my fears, they only morphed into other angers and fears. Which erupted into negative behaviors: irritation over little things, performance-driven living, defensiveness.
            It’s taken a lifetime of living with and learning from my heavenly Father who continually calls me into His light. To get to the bottom of my fears. In His presence, He uncovers the causes and applies the comfort. He provides a loving community of believers in which I find wisdom and healing.
            We all deal with unpleasant emotions, often generated from our thoughts surrounding circumstances beyond our control. But our Father, who is intimately acquainted with all our fears, calls us down the stairs of our grief and loss and into His marvelous revealing and healing light.

~~
Eileen Rife, author of Laughing with Lily, speaks to women’s groups, encouraging them to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Rev up Your Romance!

As an author, I love to write romance! Maybe because a good romance points me to God, who is forever wooing me to His divine heart.

This is the month when we emphasize love. Candy hearts fill the store shelves. Romantic cards--from the humorous to the endearing--vie for attention on racks.

Wives and girlfriends leave subtle hints on kitchen tables, in lunchboxes, and on pillows. 

February is known as the month for reaching out to that special someone with words and acts of love and devotion. 

With that in mind, I'm offering the Kindle version of Journey to Judah, a contemporary romance, to one lucky winner who leaves a comment below!

Here's how my JJ hero and heroine first meet . . .

Maggie awoke from a deep sleep to notice the stranger beside her staring at her. Blushing, she coughed and shifted in her seat.
           “Please make sure your tray table is stowed, your seat is in an upright position, and your seatbelt securely fastened. We are beginning our descent into Mumbai,” the British flight attendant announced over the intercom.
            Maggie fumbled to obey the attendant’s directive as the passenger beside her spoke.
       
“You were sleeping so long, I thought I might check your pulse,” the handsome man mused. “But just as I reached for your wrist, you woke up. Hi, my name is Gavin…Gavin Munsfield.” The congenial young man reached for Maggie’s hand. His square jaw was etched with five o’clock shadow and his eyes laced with fatigue, yet he smiled with a warmth Maggie had not felt for days.
            Still groggy, Maggie rubbed her eyes, then reached to shake his hand. “Uh, yes, uh…nice to meet you. I’m Maggie Osteder.”
          “Please remain seated until the seatbelt sign goes off. Then you may move about the cabin and retrieve your baggage from the overhead compartments,” the voice interrupted. “Thank you for flying British Airways. We hope you enjoyed your flight.”
           As Maggie pulled her purse from under the seat, Gavin continued, “So is this your last stop or do you have a long layover here?  In Mumbai, I mean.”
          “Long layover,” Maggie replied, somewhat irritated by the man’s incessant chatter
and intrusion into her private affairs. She was single, a slip of a girl, yet possessing strength that belied her physique. She had been warned to beware of men who might take advantage of her. Gavin seemed harmless enough, but she didn’t want to take any chances.
          “Ah, excuse me,” Maggie insisted, stretching for the overhead bin in the jumble of exiting passengers. She felt pain shoot up her right leg and realized someone had just stepped on her foot. She hoped this was not a foreshadowing of misfortune ahead. She had already endured a four-hour layover in London, misplaced luggage, and a nosy passenger trying to wheedle his way into her business. All she wanted was to get off the plane, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, if such a thing existed in Mumbai, and arrive in Chennai in one piece.   
           Maggie had waited ten years for this day. Now, at age twenty-five, she was finally on her way to India.
          “Perhaps I’ll see you again,” the towering man quipped, disturbing Maggie’s reminiscence.”
          “Excuse me?”
          “Who knows? We may run into each other again,” Gavin persisted as he gathered his camera and backpack and headed for the exit.
           
Maggie shook her head. Who IS he, anyway? Brushing her hair back and straightening her blouse, Maggie stepped off the plane and into the Mumbai terminal, an entire world apart from anything she had ever encountered. (Excerpt taken from chapter one).

So, leave a comment below for a chance to win! Winner announced on February 14.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Journaling for Better Health


“Writing about emotional upheavals in our lives can improve physical and mental health,” says James Pennebaker, Ph.D. Pennebaker, author of two books and more than 47 research studies correlating expressive writing and physiological/emotional healing, finds that journal writing results in fewer visits to primary care physicians, better adjustments to new settings, mood healing after surgery, and reduction of severe disease in chronically ill patients.

Yes, getting thoughts and feelings down on paper can be good for your health! However, as promising as journaling sounds, it can be daunting for some. Getting started is usually the biggest hurtle to jump. Here’s how.

Find what works for you. Kathleen Adams, pioneer in journal therapy, notes that “when people start getting results that work for them, they begin to buy into the process.” A variety of writing choices makes it possible for almost anyone to enjoy journaling. Adams writes in her book, The Way of the Journal: “In moments of ecstasy, in moments of despair the journal remains an impassive, silent friend, forever ready to coach, to confront, to critique, to console. Its potential as a tool for holistic mental health is unsurpassed.”

A variety of methods can be explored until you find the right fit. One technique might work for grief or depression while another technique works for problem solving.

  • Complete a sentence. This method provides sentence prompts to get you started. Some prompts might be: “Right now I feel……………..” or “One answer to my problem would be…..” or “One thing I want to accomplish today is…..” Sentence stems are quick and easy and provide a gentle, non-threatening way for reluctant writers to begin keeping a journal.

  • Write for five minutes. Limiting writing time can be less daunting than opening a blank page without a time limit. This form is good for trauma or shame-related issues. Journal how you’re feeling about a particular topic or situation in your life. You won’t necessarily finish in the five minute time allotment, but you can return to the topic another day. Writing on the same subject over time may reveal some patterns or open up feelings you were not aware of and that need to be flushed out of your system.

  • Keep a list. This technique is good when you need to determine the pros and cons of a decision. It is especially helpful for the obsessive-compulsive person who likes structure. A list idea that can be helpful for those suffering from depression can be broken into three categories: “Three things I am thankful for today are ……; three things I feel good about are…; and three things I take pleasure in are….” This idea can be expanded to a longer list of “Twenty (or any number you choose) Things I Enjoy.” Lists can be used for any theme and can provide insight, as often repetitive entries will appear on the list.

  • Start a community journal. This can be a fun way to involve your spouse or entire family, and can be a great way to problem-solve daily issues. Young children can draw pictures. One idea would be to have each member of the family take turns deciding on a topic to write about. For example, if journaling is done once a week, a topic might be “My favorite activity this week was….” or “The worst moment of my week was….” or “One thing I would like to do as a family is…..” Keep the journal in an accessible place, such as the kitchen counter or coffee table. Community journals can be springboards for effective communication which leads to better family health.

Follow through with journaling. Once you have experimented with a few forms of writing, stick with it! Decide on a time and place to write. Shoot for three to four times a week. If that is too much, try just one day a week. Whatever you decide, make your goal attainable for you. In his studies, Pennebaker discovered that writing 15-20 minutes a day for four consecutive days yielded physiological improvement, as in lower blood pressure. Thus, journaling can be good for your health!

For more information on journal therapy, log onto www.journaltherapy.com.


Friday, January 9, 2015

What Gets You Up in the Morning?


            What gets you up in the morning? Maybe it’s the alarm clock, the kids screaming, or the dog licking your face. Perhaps, the aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen or a poke in the ribs from your spouse stimulates a yawn and a groan.
            I’ve been thinking more about this lately, and I want my motivation for getting out of bed to be greater than someone else’s expectations for my day. I want my “get up and go” to be generated by a love for the Lord.
Indeed, the older I get, the more focused I become on what’s really important: Eternity. I want to finish well. In order to do that, I must keep my gaze on the finish line. The apostle Paul states in Philippians 3:13b-14,  . . . one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
            Paul notes that the Philippian believers are his joy and crown. He was instrumental in introducing many of them to Christ. He knows that someday in heaven, he will receive awards based on his faithful service while on earth.
            In Revelation 4:9-11, the twenty-four elders lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus. Given this, there is every reason to believe that all Christians will present their crowns to Jesus. And it will be with extreme joy and fulfillment that we do so.
The Scriptures reference five crowns that believers may receive in the next life.
1)      Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8) presented to all those who kept the faith and longed for Christ’s return.
2)      Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19) given to all who introduced others to Christ, as Paul did; he refers to the Philippian believers as his “crown.”
3)      Crown of Life (James 1:12) awarded to all who endured temptation and trial with love for the Lord.
4)      Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4) presented by the Chief Shepherd to those who tended His flock.
5)      Imperishable Crown (1 Cor. 9:25) presented to all those who subdued the sinful nature and ran the race well.
In keeping with this biblical teaching, two things get me up in the morning and motivate me throughout the day.
Visualizing myself placing crowns at Jesus’s feet. Not to gloat in my earthly achievements but to show my intense love and devotion for Him. I don’t think I’ll showcase my trophies on my mansion shelf for all to see, polishing them as I pass by. No, the supreme joy will come in presenting them to the Lord.
I used to be happy just to know I would be with Him, but the closer I get to the finish line, the more urgency I sense and the more I desire to give back to Him for all He has done for me. Crowns at His feet are a way of giving back when I see Him face to face.
Riding out of heaven with Him. Revelation 19:11-18 tells about a time when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will ride out of heaven on His white horse accompanied by the armies of heaven (all the saints). At that time, our Prince will bring justice, destroying evil on the earth. What a day that will be! If we’re ever tempted to take vengeance, we need only remember that Christ, the One who keeps better records than we do, will make all things right one grand day!
It takes discipline to focus on eternity. No one said it was easy! The here and now too easily consumes my thoughts. But knowing that I can someday praise and exalt my Savior, not only with my words but with a life well-lived, excites me and motivates me to love and share Him with others, guard my tongue, put to death my sin nature, and purposely long for His return.
That’s what gets me up in the morning. How about you?

~~
Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, speaks to women’s groups, encouraging them to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.