Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Too Good to Be True . . .

Too good to be true . . .

Another giveaway!

A long-buried secret.
An unexpected encounter.
A quest for answers.

Celeste Tatem, a special-education teacher at The Brighton Center in Schreiber, Indiana, couldn’t be more in love with her husband, Joe. But the memory of one day in the past haunts her, threatening their relationship. When Joe dies in a factory explosion, she sinks into depression.


It will take the arrival of a new student, Lily, and her delightful honesty, laughter, and joy at life’s little things to awaken Celeste to hope. When Don, an old flame from college, reenters Celeste’s world, the flickers of love stir once again, and startling questions arise. Questions that threaten to rip the veneer off of her carefully guarded secret. Then the most unexpected thing of all happens….

A story of love and forgiveness
in the most unexpected places.

Recently, Laughing with Lily received a 5-star review from a reader in Texas:

"Read this book and you will experience a whole range of emotions through the written words of Eileen Rife. Reading this book would be a gift you give to yourself. Reading Laughing With Lily is a lesson in grief, forgiveness and love. It's a book that will stay in your heart long after you've finished reading it. I actually read this aloud to my husband and we talked. My Joe and me. It opened doors I thought were long shut, unlocked a long-held secret. All thanks to this one book. Others have given a synopsis so let me just say that Laughing with Lily will grab hold of your heart and not let go, you'll grin and then you'll tear up, and I bet you'll murmur an oh wow or two! SO well written that I'd give 10 stars if I could."


Looking for an entertaining and meaningful read? Leave a comment and enter to win an ebook copy of Laughing with Lily! Winner announced on April 15.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saying Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever

My husband, Chuck, and I stood on our front stoop waving to our oldest daughter as she pulled out of our driveway on her way to Tennessee. With a sly smile, Chuck uttered through clenched teeth, "She doesn't have a clue where she is going." I thought to myself--neither do we!  Rachel was concerned about finding her way to a summer camp. We were concerned about finding our way through the transition years to the empty nest. Rachel did make her ultimate destination. Sometimes I wondered if Chuck and I would.
       As Chuck held the storm door open for me, he joked, "Parenting reminds me of that line in the Jurassic Park movie, "First comes the oohing and aahing, and then comes the yelling and the screaming." One of the main characters, a scientist, who had previously been to the dinosaur reserve was explaining the typical reaction of a new comer to the park. Then when faced with an actual life-size dinosaur, reality set in. As new parents, we had experienced our share of oohs and aahs. No longer new kids on the block, we now embraced the glaring reality that parenting is just plain hard work and at times, down right scary. Some days we just wanted to scream--at our kids, at ourselves for handling a situation badly, or simply to release the pain we felt at saying goodbye to our grown children.
         As I said goodbye to Rachel that day on her way to camp, I realized anew that parenting is terminal. It does eventually come to an end, or at least it should under healthy conditions. I spent the year before Rachel's high school graduation coming to grip with that fact. Grieving her lost childhood and uncertain about my new relationship with her, I snuck behind doors to conceal my tears, scurried off to the bathroom in the middle of dinner to blow my nose, and smothered her with hugs whenever she walked past me. One day while washing dishes, I burst into tears. Rachel walked into the kitchen and I immediately opened a cabinet door to hide my face. I didn't want to make her transition from home any harder on her than it already was. I started to leave, but as I turned to walk away, Rachel looked me straight in the eyes, took me in her arms, and squeezed. That "squeeze" opened the door for a closer relationship as I no longer tried to shut her out of my pain. We could now walk through the transition together. As she was leaving the kitchen, Rachel turned and with a twinkle in her eye, said, “Oh, and by the way, saying goodbye doesn’t mean forever. I’ll be back!”
         Several reminders helped as I let Rachel go and grow into the woman God desired her to be. I pray these suggestions also help you as you release your grown child.
            Be aware that transition times are the hardest. Helping your young person move to complete independence requires thinking through the practical affairs of living. Sit down together with your teen and talk about goals. Write any thoughts down on paper. Will your child get a job or go to college? If he chooses college, will he work to pay his way or will you offer financial assistance? Will he purchase a car? When? Each child and each situation is different, so it is important to sit down together and map out a strategy in keeping with the child's goals and available resources. Carol Kuykendall has written an excellent book published by Tyndale House titled, Give Them Wings, on preparing your teen to leave home. She shows parents how to help their teens set goals for themselves, manage finances, maintain a car, do laundry, as well as other life skills necessary for living on one’s own. A church friend loaned the book to me during my daughter’s senior year of high school. I found the advice timely, practical, and comforting. I highly recommend it to you for additional help in this time of transition.
            When your teen is "under his own roof" financially, then he can make his own decisions. As long as you are footing the bill for college or any other venture, your teen is accountable to you and has not fully left. Finance leads to freedom which leads to independence. We encouraged Rachel to seek part time employment during high school in order to assist with college. While she was not financially independent from mom and dad, she developed a healthy appreciation for what it takes to live on one’s own. She set up savings and checking accounts and learned how to manage both. She helped with the family car expenses, such as gas, repairs, and insurance. She understood that as long as mom and dad were paying for college or gap year experiences, she needed to consult with us about her plans. Thankfully, we have been able to add our blessing to Rachel’s dreams, and therefore have not had difficulty providing financial backing on that score. If, in your case, you do find it difficult to mentally or spiritually support your child’s aspirations, and after prayer, counsel, and communication with your teen, discover he still feels inclined to follow his dream, then you will need to release that child to fund himself.
          Set boundaries before your teen leaves home. Establish some plan for phone calls, emails, or letters. If your child has left the home financially independent, then he is no longer a child. He has moved from Ephesians 6:1--"Children, obey your parents in the Lord" to Ephesians 6:2--"Honor your father and mother." If he has been taught from the cradle to respect your authority in a way that has been loving and also respectful to him, then most likely he will continue to honor you through his actions and words. To do so shows true maturity on his part. Don't overload your grown child with advice. During these transition years, it may seem as if he needs you one minute and casts you aside the next. Be patient as he moves toward full independence. Allow him to learn what you had to learn by experiencing life. And by all means, keep praying!
         That day in the kitchen was a breakthrough for me. Rachel’s serenity and assurance reminded me that her dad and I had prepared her for the next step. I could let go with confidence that her heavenly Father would protect, provide, and guide her as she stepped out into the world. As Rachel looked at me, with broken voice, I stammered, "I know you have to leave. That's right and good. Please bear with me as I deal with saying goodbye. Crying is just part of being a mom." Rachel quietly responded, "I know. And guess what? Saying goodbye doesn't mean forever. I'll be back."   
~~
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. The above except was taken from her book, When Mourning Comes, Living Through Loss. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1553063732





      

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Neighbor's Encounter with Christianity

I walked my friend to the door and noticed a Buddha sitting on the porch, welcoming unsuspecting visitors. Inside, incense greeted my nostrils in a room decorated with the sun, moon, and stars. I felt sick inside and quickly made my exit.

Driving back home from dropping my neighbor off at a “meditation” meeting, I struggled with the Lord. In my efforts to be a witness to this woman, I had crossed a line that I knew in my heart I should not have crossed. “Oh, Jesus,” I prayed, “I am so sorry. What do you want me to do to make this right?”

Feeling better, I determined in my heart that I would call Amy and let her know I would not be able to take her to the next meeting. Then I would explain why.

The next morning I got up my nerve, dialed her number, and waited for the voice on the other end.

“Hello,” Amy’s easy-going voice rang out. I closed my eyes, breathing a prayer for grace and the right words to share that would not turn her off, but draw her in.

“Hi,” I quickly replied, beginning to sweat. “How did the meeting go last night? What sort of things did you talk about?” I wanted to be crystal clear about my suspicions before making judgments about her meeting.

“Oh my, we had a wonderful time!” Amy cooed. “In fact, I thought about your missionary daughter in India when the speaker stood up to address our group. He spoke about different religions and how we can pull the best from each one.”

When she took a breath, I jumped in. “Amy,” I gingerly began. “I won’t be able to take you to your next meeting. You see, I offended my best friend by taking you last night.”

“Oh, who is that?” Amy said.

“The Lord Jesus Christ.” I felt a renewed strength surge through my veins. I knew Jesus was with me and proud of my unashamed stand for Him. “I felt so uneasy on the drive home last night,” I explained. “You see, I cannot take you to a place where I know the folks inside are not proclaiming the truth. Jesus says in John 14:6, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Amy, Jesus is the only way to make peace with God. He paid a huge price to purchase my salvation. I cannot turn my back on that or on Him. He is my Savior. I care nothing about the religions of the world. What I do care about, and what Jesus came to offer, is a relationship with the Father. That is how Christianity differs from every other religion. It’s all about relationship, not adherence to a religious set of principles. All the other founders of religions are dead and gone, but only Jesus died and rose from the grave, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:6. Over 500 witnesses attest to that fact, as well as secular historians, who lived during that time period.”

“But why only Christianity, Eileen?” Amy interjected. “There are so many good things in other religions.”

“Do you think Satan would reel us into a lie by making it look unattractive? He always mixes just enough truth in with the lie to make it look palpable. That is how he can lead so many on the broad path to hell and destruction. Why Christianity, Amy? Because it’s all about relationship with a Person who is alive, who knows me inside and out and has still chosen to love me and give His life for me. It’s about the only Person in the world who ever rose from the dead of His own power! That’s why, Amy. Christianity is the only thing that makes sense. It is a free gift, unlike all the other religions of the world which are based on good works.”

Amy was silent on the other end. I knew she was considering Christianity and I was grateful God gave me the courage to begin a new day planting more seeds for Him.

~~

Eileen Rife, author of Chosen Ones, speaks to women’s groups on a variety of topics. She is currently working on three writing projects, two fiction and one nonfiction. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Would I Have Been at the Cross That Day?


Would I have been at the cross that day? Or would I have been too scared and run away?

Recently, at a Prayer Partner Retreat at Alta Mons with my church, I stood in the center of a massive field surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. Awed and silenced by the breath-taking beauty, I spun around in one brief sweep, like Maria on the Sound of Music. Only I did not sing. I raised my arms in praise to the King, for no song or words seemed adequate for that moment. I stood completely still, listening to the gentle rush of a bulging stream and the birds chirping overhead. I felt the cool breeze sweep across my face and the soggy ground sink beneath my feet. That last sensation was my cue to move on.

As I looked up, I spotted a rough-hewn cross in the distance. Stepping closer, I noticed multiple carvings on the wooden beams. Testimonies to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Scratched into the wood were such praises as:  God eternal. Almighty God. Prince of Peace. Everlasting God. Sing praise.

I wondered about the folks who had etched their testimony onto the cross for others passing by to witness. Probably men, women, boys, and girls just like me, with struggles, failures, and heartaches, but in love with the Savior. So much so, they took the time to stop and leave their praise imprint.

As I stood alone before the empty cross, I could not help but wonder if I would have been so bold the day my Lord died. Would I have supported him publicly as He was dying for me publicly? Or would I have been like so many of His followers who simply turned away, scared and confused?

I thought about how easy it was to stand before a symbolic cross on a quiet May day, surrounded by beauty and other believers, only a short distance away, who shared a passion for prayer. My heart was convicted and challenged. I wondered what sacrifice I had made that could even begin to compare to my Lord's sacrifice for me.

Stepping even closer to the cross and viewing the etchings, I wondered what lasting impressions I had made for God's kingdom because I had encountered the Christ of the cross.

Would my life be any different for having been here? What would I do or say today that would show at least one other person my Savior lives?