Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Eileen Does for Christmas

So much fun at Christmas time! Wrapping presents, singing for the nursing home residents, decorating . . . 

And baking cookies for the neighbors!

Well, we nibble on a few, too!

My Waldock grandkids work together to bake sugar cookies. Up to our elbows in icing and sprinkles with plenty of giggles to go around.

Love the holiday season! How about you? What tradition does your family practice?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Christmas Child




My grandson, Ethan (4), cupped my chin in his hands, looked into my eyes, and said, "God wants to do great things with little children."

He reminded me of this statement two or three times throughout our Grandma/Ethan date. I couldn't help but giggle.

On reflection, I realize how powerful a line my young grandson delivered. For isn't that the very heart of Christmas?

God wants to do great things through a Child.

And so He did. 

God came down in human flesh, clothed as a baby . . . as one of us. Humble beginnings in a manger. Feeling the same soaked diapers we experience, the same hungry stomach gnawing, the same loneliness, sadness, grief.

In order to identify with mankind. With you. With me.

To know how we feel, in every way . . . physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. He became one of us. 

And then He died, for us. Because He could. Since He was also fully God, He was the only One who could bear our sin, offering redemption through His blood.

Oh, glorious Christmas Child! The One who invites each of us to become little children in the attitudes of our heart. To be humble enough to admit our sin, draw near to Him, and accept His gift.

The ultimate Christmas gift from one Child to another.

~~

Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, invites women to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story! The article above is taken from a newly-released devotional titled, Penned from the Heart, compiled by Marilyn Nutter. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com .





Monday, December 1, 2014

Dealing with Holiday Stress

Aunt Edna plunges through the front door loaded down with gifts. On her heels, Uncle Henry grumbles about the cost of fuel. Popping gum with cell phone glued to her ear, niece Marcie stomps in, plops on the couch, and props her snowy feet on your antique coffee table.
Kinda reminds you of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, doesn’t it?
With all our best efforts to prepare for and enjoy the holiday season, we sometimes lament with the Griswold’s wife when she tells her daughter, “Look, it’s Christmas; we’re all miserable!
Take heart. The holiday season doesn’t have to weigh us down with stress if we follow a few helpful guidelines.
Stop. Take a deep breath.
That’s right. In the midst of shopping, food prep, company, programs, and parties, stop and breathe deeply through your nose. Hold it to the count of eight, then let it out slowly to the count of eight. It’s almost impossible to be stressed when you breathe deeply. The exercise slows you down, forces you to regain equilibrium, and sends nourishing oxygen to all of your organs.
Adjust your expectations.  
If your expectations for a happy holiday do not match reality, then your stress level will go up. You may be the type who wants it all—the china, linen, silver polished to a sheen, and the turkey roasted to golden perfection. Gifts wrapped and glittering under a fresh Frazier. Fire lit and house sparkling. Christmas caroling and hot cocoa and cookies waiting at home. You may want to host a neighborhood open house, serve at the Rescue Mission, or take charge of the office party or church drama.
Choose one or two activities that best represent your desire for the holidays. Then let the rest go. You will be doing yourself and everyone around you a big favor. And you’ll likely experience godly contentment, which no amount of gifts or glitter can replace.
Remember, relationships are more important than things.
If you are so frazzled that you can’t sit down and carry on a meaningful conversation with your spouse, family members, or friends, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. God loves people. That’s His focus. The Babe in the manger came to restore us to the Father. He’s all about relationships. We should be, too. Take time to play games, read the Christmas story, listen to each other, pray together, and laugh around the table. These are the memories you will carry into the future, not how many activities you completed on your list.
Set aside some one-on-one time.
It’s okay to leave Uncle Fred snoozing on the sofa while you slip out with your honey for a well-deserved walk. Work off that heavy meal with a little touch football in the front yard with your teenager. These activities will not only build connection but also provide exercise during a time of year when diets typically fly out the window.
Share the load.
Consider using paper plates instead of china. Delegate various menu items to members of the family. In our household my husband’s motto is Ladies cook, men clean up! I love it!
Take a nap.
With late night parties, church drama practice, or meal and gift prep, it’s likely you’ve been staying up later than usual. Sneak in an afternoon nap to refresh yourself. Even some quiet time alone in your room can help you regroup so that you can jump back into family life and better enjoy those around you.
Count your blessings.
Remember to stop and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to the One who has richly blessed your life. An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in building strength and fortitude when busyness threatens to swoop in and rob your joy.
~~
Eileen Rife, author of Laughing with Lily, conducts marriage seminars with her husband, Chuck. Together, they host the website, www.guardyourmarriage.com, where they discuss dealing with holiday stress via a video clip.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Good Thoughts List

My counselor husband, Chuck, uses a "Good Thoughts" list with his clients, something he's found helpful in his own life as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, perhaps you could use some help in the gratitude department. I know I do. Based on Philippians 4:8, this exercise can change the way you look at your daily routine and circumstances.
"Finally brethren, think on these things."  This is Paul's command to the Philippian believers and is very good advice for us today.  It ensures we won’t be led astray by our lust and pride.  It ensures we will experience more of a "renewed mind" (Rom. 12:2).  And it ensures our relationships with others will be God-honoring. 
So, what are these powerful things we need to think about?
Things that are . . .
 
True (being authentic and accurate, John 17:17 says God's Word is truth)

Noble (excellent, high moral character, honest)

Just (correct principles, fair, righteous)

Pure (free from sin, guiltless, complete and true)

Lovely (having a spiritual beauty, highly pleasing)

Good Report (a good description of a person or event)

Virtue (goodness, moral excellence and righteousness)

Praiseworthy (deserving of approval or admiration)
Using these words, find examples from your life in the last twenty-four hours and write them in your journal.  That's right—make your own daily Good Thoughts List.  As you are looking for these things throughout the day, you are literally obeying what the verse commands. 
When I (Chuck) started this practice in my own life, I found it very encouraging. Dwelling on the true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praiseworthy left no room for negative, destructive thoughts.  
A daily good thoughts list helps me "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). 
How fulfilling it is to know and practice scripture.  That's where the real power lies. You and your family will appreciate the real change resulting in their lives by learning to apply scripture.
Happy journaling! And Happy Thanksgiving! Every day of the week. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lesson I Learned from a Turkey

Copyright © 2004 Eileen Rife


I stood before a freezer full of turkeys at the grocery store. Scavenging through the assortment of Butterballs, I spotted a particularly plump fellow resting in the back of the unit. Since I was hosting around 12 guests for Thanksgiving dinner, I wanted at least a 15 pound foul to feed my crew. Greedy for that bird and in a hurry to get out of the store and on to the next errand, I fumbled through the front line of turkeys to reach the back. As I did, one of the smaller, yet equally solid birds in the front, slid from its resting place and landed squarely on my left foot. An immediate dance ensued to the tune of “Turkey on the Toe.” My little Rumpelstiltskin tirade got me nowhere. Busy, self-absorbed shoppers passed me right and left. Suddenly, I began to feel sorry for myself and very much alone. Even a little sick at my stomach.

Collecting myself, I threw the sorry turkey back into its stall and hobbled into the next aisle, telling myself I would shop for a turkey later. Rubbing my stinging toes, I reprimanded myself for being so greedy for that particular bird. In my pain, I slowed down and began to reflect on the previous days. As I pondered the richness of my life, I began to feel less hurried, less greedy for big bird in his frozen cage. I thought about what was really important to me. As I did, the Holy Spirit filled my mind with verses from Psalm 128 that I had learned years earlier.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, (and so I had –parenthesis mine)
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants (indeed they were – parenthesis mine)
Around your table.

Greed turned to gratitude as I thought about my family. How God had blessed us because we revered Him above all! Our precious “olive plants” were now grown and pursuing God’s direction for their lives. Our oldest daughter, Rachel, was on her way to India, fulfilling a ten-year dream of becoming a career missionary. I thought about our second daughter, Michelle, who in a few short weeks would graduate from college with a degree in biblical counseling and marry a youth minister in the coming months. Together, she and Jonathan would serve the Lord in a new church plant in Pennsylvania. And then my mind drifted to my precious last-born, Stephanie, a senior in high school, who was earnestly seeking God’s will for the coming year.

And my heart was full. Overflowing, in fact. I was so grateful that my husband, Chuck, and I could have the privilege and responsibility of rearing three godly daughters with God’s grace and wisdom. We had drilled into them over their growing years that to glorify God in body, soul, and mind was their chief end. At each graduation we left them with the scriptural charge, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth”(3 John 4).

In that moment, as shopping carts careened around me, I inwardly breathed a thank-you prayer to my Father for 20 years of home schooling my girls and 28 years of marriage to a godly, compassionate man. Somehow, in that inner moment, the size turkey I served on Thanksgiving Day seemed trivial in light of the many blessings God had just brought to my mind. 

Funny how God can use even a frozen turkey on a harried lady to quiet her heart, regain her perspective, and teach her a lesson about gratitude.
 ~~
That article was written ten years ago. Today, all three of my married daughters are serving the Lord around the world in full-time missions. We now enjoy seven precious grandchildren, ages eight to four months, around our table. And Chuck and I have been married 38 years. My family has provided much fodder for my books, especially the passions behind my fiction works. Check them out at my Amazon author page for a Christmas gift!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Write a Review, Win a Book!


 Calling all Rife Readers!

Friday typically marks the beginning of the holiday season. The aroma of spiced cider. Pumpkins gracing doors. Cinnamon filling the air. Thoughts of parties and gift giving. 

With that in mind, you may want to consider the reader on your gift list!

Now through the end of November, I'm gifting a FREE hard copy of one of my books to two individuals. You choose the book you want.

All you need to do is go to Amazon and write a review on one of my books you have read, then leave a comment below to let me know you did that.

Winner announced November 30.

Thanks for helping me spread the word through your review. Whether good or bad, reviews help writers. So I appreciate any feedback you can provide on books you have read. The link to my Author Page is provided below. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Met a Man Today


I met a man today. “Mam, could you spare fifty cents?” I hurried on to my car, somewhat angry that he had seen the ten dollar bill I was holding as I exited the dry cleaning store. As I slammed the car door, I looked behind me and the scraggly, stooped over man was nowhere to be seen.

Could it have been Jesus? An angel? How could the skinny man have disappeared so quickly?

I immediately felt remorse. No matter that as a woman alone in a parking lot I probably shouldn’t stop and talk with a strange man. No matter that he might have assaulted me, grabbed my purse while I rummaged through it, or abducted me. No amount of rationalization would comfort my tormented thoughts as I pulled out of the parking lot and drove down the road.

Tears formed in my eyes and crept down my cheeks. “I’m sorry, Jesus. Was that You? Was that a divine appointment for my day? What would You have done? Were You hungry and I refused to feed you, simply muttering, ‘No Sir’, and hurrying on my way? Please forgive me. I was angry, afraid.”

I met a man today then simply went on my way. But I will always wonder.