Monday, October 19, 2009

A Father's Legacy

Daddy with the family

Woke up this morning with Daddy on my heart. Wondering again if not having a public memorial service was the best idea. He meant so much to so many people. Yet, he was 94 years old, and so many of those who knew him were either dead or out-of-touch with my Dad in his waning years, or so I thought.

Interesting how the Lord provides encouragement when you least expect it. Logged onto my email account and there was a message from a dear friend of the family. She had forwarded some entries that had been recently posted on FaceBook, almost two years after his death.

Phrases, such as "a very great man," "loved when he would come to the school," "he's the reason I became a Christian," leaped off the page.

You see, my hero father served the Lord more than 50 years in children's ministry. During the day when you could still do so, Daddy would take his flannel graph, dummies, and other visual aids to elementary schools in Johnson County, TN and present Bible stories to hundreds of kids sitting on bleachers.

His passion was reaching children with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was one of those children he reached.

As I scanned the FB entries, I realized that the greatest tribute we could give Daddy was in the words of those he touched. That legacy remains and will continue to serve as a memorial of his faithfulness to his Lord.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Buried a Good Friend Today

The last remaining pet of our daughters' growing up years is now gone. Today we buried "Tiger, the cat," as granddaughter, Rebecca, fondly called him. It was a lesson in grief and loss for our little almost three-year-old firstborn granddaughter. She matured today. Grief does that.

We prayed that the Lord would let Tiger go in his sleep, unlike our other three pets in years past who we had to put down. God answered. Slipping quietly into Tiger's basement room, we noticed he had passed sometime during the night or early morning hours.

An affectionate friend, he clung to our necks like a koala bear, nuzzled our faces while we slept, and insisted on his daily, if not hourly petting. He kept us warm in the winter, humored us in the summer with his silly tail chasing antics, and provided companionship year around.

Together with our female cat, he became daddy to four male kittens who he nurtured as seriously as mama, licking their coats and carrying them from place to place.

"Loyal" was his middle name, for he stuck by us through thick and thin.

Our family will miss you, Tiger. Your garden resting place seems fitting for a cat who loved to sit by the flowers, soak in the sun, and chew on the grass.

Thanks for the many years of enjoyment you provided us!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What a Writer Does in Her "Spare" Time

With my burden for our beloved land increasing, I've decided to channel my fear and anger into godly action. You see, a good Christian is also a good citizen according to Romans 13, and that's what I endeavor to be.

So, Saturday, I participated with eight other Roanokers to canvas neighborhoods on behalf of the Republican candidates: Bob McDonnell for Governor, Bill Bolling for Lt. Gov., and Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General. There are also many others running for various offices, including House of Delegates, one of whom is Bill Cleaveland for the 17th District. I am especially pleased with this since his son, Will, was my very first creative writing student back in the fall of 2006. These are good men who stand for biblical principles.

I am convinced and have been for many years that Christians need to stand up and fight for the principles upon which this great land was founded. As Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, once wrote, "If the enemy can destroy the Christian's passion for America, then he has won the major battle for the soul of this nation." It doesn't take a second look by a thoughtful person to realize that that is exactly what has happened. Swept up in the comforts and blessings that America affords, we have forgotten the God who bestowed those blessings. Our lights have dimmed because, we too, have bought into many of the culture's lies without even realizing it. God says in Hosea 13:6 concerning Israel, "When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me." Chilling how well this represents us as American Christians. We are fat and lazy with God's blessings.

Our founding fathers understood that America would only be as great as her reliance upon the one and only true God. Morality rested upon religion as the foundation of the Republic. Without this, they knew we did not stand a chance of survival.

In his farewell address, Sept. 17, 1796, George Washington wrote, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports . . . In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens . . ."

In a letter of June 21, 1776, John Adams wrote, "Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."

Furthermore, Samuel Adams wrote in 1778, "Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness."

On the list goes. Even Benjamin Franklin, the least religious person of the pack, wrote in 1787, "...only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

As I look at America today, I tremble at the reality of their words. I know I must trust an all-wise heavenly Father, for He alone is Savior. But I must also put feet to my faith. A righteous stand for the sacred principles that bless the heart of God is in order. This I must do.

I must REMEMBER, REPENT, RETURN. Over and over again in the Old Testament, the Lord admonishes the Israelites to remember where He brought them from, how He had delivered them, how He had blessed them. They were exhorted to pass the stories of God's faithfulness down to their children, and their children's children, so that they will not forget. This "passing the baton of faith" is vital to a nation's security. God was trying to protect His people, and He longs to protect us, if we will listen and follow His guidelines.

The memorial stones of our Christian heritage are written all over Washington DC, if we will but look. Etched in nearly every building are biblical references.

Oh, how we must be lights in this generation! Darkness does not overtake light; light overtakes darkness. Let us rise up and be the lights God intends us to be, for His glory and the propagation of the gospel in this land and overseas.

(Quotes taken from THE TRUTH PROJECT/Focus on the Family, Del Tackett, 2006)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Family Table

(c)2008 Eileen Rife

While I sat at the kitchen table sipping tea during my morning devotions, I was distracted by the dents, stains, and scratches on the wooden surface. My mind traveled to Sams Wholesale Club where only days ago I had admired a brand new contemporary-style oak table and chairs that would look grand in my eat-in kitchen. I sighed and forced my attention back to my Scripture reading. We weren’t in a financial position to spend money on furniture. Maybe I could just refinish the surface.

As I read Deuteronomy, chapter six, I lingered on verses 5-9: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

A sudden warm awareness washed over me. This wooden table passed down to our family from my husband’s mother played a vital role in fulfilling the admonition of this Scripture. How often we had gathered around it to participate in family devotions. When the girls were little, they would color pictures to illustrate the Bible reading for that day. While I tried my best to scrub stray marks from Grandma’s maple drop-leaf table, I could never completely eliminate the stains. I remembered other occasions when we would roll out dough and cut out Christmas ornaments to attach to gifts or give to neighbors. Some of those cookie-cutter marks still stated their presence on Grandma’s hand-me-down table. When we raised money to go to India on a family mission trip, we crafted wreaths and candy trains to sell. The table still bore glue gun and wire marks. Home school science experiments gone amuck also plagued the table top.

Now immersed in my reminiscence, I leaned in to scrutinize the surface. Sure enough, there were glass rings from company we’d invited in over the years, some of whom were unsaved family members, friends, and work associates. Then I zeroed in on my husband’s place at the table. Just that morning, he had set his oatmeal bowl on one of the Christmas cards we had saved so that we could pray for the sender. When I picked up the card, I noticed part of the back was stuck to the table. Grabbing the dishrag, I scrubbed at the spot. While the paper easily dislodged, the ink from the backing remained indelibly imprinted on the maple surface. I smiled, no longer troubled by my splotched and marred table, but warmed by the realization that this family heirloom had hosted many a stranger, hurting soul, and our own children who are now faithfully serving the Lord around the world with our grandchildren.

I sat back down at the table and ran my hand over Deuteronomy, chapter six. I chuckled as I realized that we had fulfilled the Lord’s admonition to write down His commands, maybe not on the doorframes of our house, but on our kitchen table. Our love for the Lord was etched all over its surface and I had never stopped to appreciate it. But you know, if I have anything to say about it, this table that expands to accommodate twelve people comfortably will be around for many more years to pass on His love to my children’s children, as well as to others He brings our way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Off to Uganda

Ready or not, here we go!

Fighting the sniffles as we toss in last minute items into our luggage. The missionaries request chocolate, guitar pics, and Sunday School materials. We appreciate the donations people and businesses have made! It means alot to American missionaries to have small touches of home. Most countries just don't produce the chocolate that the good ole' US of A does, unless you're talking about Europe.

In spite of not feeling 100%, we're ready to get the show on the road. On Tuesday of next week, we will travel to the Kingfisher Resort on Lake Victoria to lead a five-day marriage retreat. PRAY for God to do a work in each of us as we create relationships that honor the Lord and magnify Him to the world. PRAY for the nationals as they reach out to their villages with the gospel. PRAY for the missionary team as they seek the Lord's direction in ministry. PRAY that we will all have health and strength to do what He has asked us to do.

And when you get a chance, don't forget to check out for the best prices on JOURNEY TO JUDAH and RESTORED HEARTS. Join with us in prayer for God to use these two novels to touch folks' hearts and help them get involved in sharing His Word with others.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Love Won Out conference

What a moving and meaningful day at the Love Won Out Conference! Thank you for your prayers. The speakers were humble, gracious servants of our Lord. God answered many of my personal prayers.

Here are some highlights of my weekend:

• Joe Dallas asking me to autograph a copy of Restored Hearts for him.

• Getting copies of Restored Hearts into several other key leaders’ hands:

Melissa Fryrear—director of gender issues for Focus on the Family/Public Policy division

Alan Chambers—President of Exodus International to which a portion of book sales will go. This is currently the largest Christian organization that reaches out to those who struggle and their families.

Dr. Bill Maier—Vice President at Focus on the Family and psychologist-in-residence

Mike Goeke—pastoral counselor to those struggling with same-sex issues

Nancy Heche—mom, speaker, and author whose husband died of Aids and whose actress daughter had a three-year relationship with Ellen DeGeneres

• Placing Restored Hearts into the hands of a visibly hurting family whose son was very much trying to look like a girl. They traveled all the way from Minnesota to attend the conference.

• Meeting and sharing with a middle-aged couple who just found out their son has a homosexual lover

• Meeting another mom who wants to take action in her community against the gay agenda

• Thanking the Focus on the Family team for the opportunity and privilege of serving alongside them as part of their counseling network

• A loving message sent to those who picketed Saturday. Several leaders went out on the sidewalk to talk with the gay activists. Police guards were posted at the church doors. Thanking the Lord for our safety.

Continue to pray for the impact of the conference and for God to use Restored Hearts however and whenever He chooses.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Release! Signed copies available from the author

A young man fleeing Boston with a dark secret. His missionary brother full of contempt. An Indian girl, uncertain, but longing to pursue the man she loves.

Restored Hearts, Book Two in the Born for India trilogy

One brother's dark secret
Another brother's scorn

Will family ties be strong enough to bind two wounded hearts, once the secret is revealed?

Copies now available from the author at a discount. Email
Book will be available at online stores March 30.

What Folks are Saying

Restored Hearts is an engaging story which effectively captures the dilemma of a Christian man coming to grips with the conflict between his sexual attraction struggle and his genuine trust and faith in God. While a work of fiction, it offers hope for those engaged in this dilemma, for in the counseling sessions which Tim has with Dr. Hauser is found the sound wisdom and helpful principles necessary for resolving and managing homosexuality; and for some, preparing the way for heterosexual bonding.

Dr Bill Consiglio, Sexual Orientation Resolution Therapist (SORT) Author: Homosexual No More, Victor Books, 1991.

Restored Hearts touched my heart on so many levels. Sure, we all see destructive lifestyles in those around us--we may even have some harmful habits ourselves---but if we could look on the inside, what we'd likely find are broken hearts. Someone failed us. We've been hurt. We compensate in harmful ways.

Eileen Rife has taken a look on the dark side of life, and let God shine His Light on the touchy subject of homosexuality. It's fiction, yes, but it could be anyone's story, with all the complications it entails when it's someone close to us. Lovingly and expertly done. Full of hope. I know I'll forever see people through different eyes.

Elisabeth Hewitt Bantz, author
Secrets of the Heart series

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Long Distance Grandparenting

(This article first appeared in Mature Living magazine, 2007).

Our daughter, Rachel, and husband, Nathan, sat across from my husband, Chuck, and me at the dinner table. A cozy meal of homemade veggie peanut butter soup ( a Thai delicacy) coated my stomach with a warm wash of comfort. I noticed that Rachel was not eating much, so I asked, “Aren’t you going to have any soup?”
Rachel patted her tummy. “I don’t think it would sit too well with your grandchild,” she replied.

My mind whirled as I looked at Chuck and exclaimed, “Grandchild? What?” We could hardly believe the news! We were going to be grandparents for the first time.
As the days turned into weeks, I realized that Chuck and I would be doing the lion’s share of grandparenting long distance since Rachel and Nathan are missionaries in India. That reality spurred me on to research how to creatively long distance grandparent. As I read and interviewed other long distance grandparents, I realized we were not alone. Others walked where we walked. I discovered helpful tips on how to stay connected with our grandchild even though an ocean separated us.

“Based on an interview by Stephen and Janet Bly, authors of The Power of a Godly Grandparent, the question was asked to over a dozen grandchildren: ‘If you could instantly change one thing about your relationship with your grandparents, what would it be?’ Ninety percent replied, ‘I’d have Grandma and Grandpa live closer so we could spend more time with them.’ Further investigation revealed that the other 10% already live near their grandparents.”(Bly, p. 46) This survey shows how vital grandchildren view participation by their grandparents. So just how do we cultivate a relationship long distance?


In her book, Little Things Mean a Lot, Creating Happy Memories with Your Grandchildren, Susan Newman suggests gifting a favorite magazine subscription to your grandchild. She also suggests slipping a dollar or two into a letter or card. Other ideas she recommends are sending postcards from places you have traveled and water bottles with the label right on the bottle. Send a framed picture of yourself for the child’s dresser. Make an audio/video/DVD and send. Read a book on tape and send with the book so that the child can follow along as he listens to your voice. Send a review of a movie the child might like. Send riddles. Videotape family events and identify family members the child may not know or see very often. Send flowers. Send mail in colorful or decorated envelopes. Mail an occasional surprise package equipped with cards, silly putty, stickers, gum, candy, sports cards, jacks, or decorator pencils. Send a SASE with a note requesting information about the child, such as his favorite color, food, holiday, season, etc.

In The Grandmother Principles, Suzette Elgin introduces the family newsletter as a way to stay connected with grandkids. She also suggests keeping a calendar or diary for one year to which you add a few lines a day, then gift to your grandchild. She encourages grandparents to send encouraging notes when grandkids are going through a tough time. Another option is to share favorite family recipes and treat ideas, especially if you are going to be separated over the holidays.


Sandra Kessler, grandmother of two, calls once a week to read her Canadian grandchildren a story over the phone. Know your grandchild’s schedule and make calls accordingly. Jot down what you want to say so that time on the phone is used wisely. Ask creative questions that require more than a yes or no answer, such as, “What was a favorite thing you did today?” Let them know you love and miss them. Call just to talk with them. You might even set up a regular time to call so that it becomes you and your grandchild’s special time together every week. If your grandchild plays an instrument, request a phone recital, suggests Susan Newman.


Amy Nida, mother of three and daughter of missionaries in the Netherlands, makes good use of the internet through a system called in conjunction with DSL or light DSL. Both grandparent and grandchild must have DSL for the system to work. Amy reports that her children also send artwork and digital pictures over the computer. Email and e-cards are fun ways to stay connected for free! You can’t beat that, especially when you are communicating clear around the world. In addition, a webcam, a simple camera device that hooks up to your computer, can be purchased for as little as twenty dollars. A webcam allows grandparent and grandchild to view each other while talking over the computer. Your grandchild must also have a webcam hooked up to his/her computer.

Walter and Marilyn Hartt suggest other ideas in their book, The Complete Idiots Guide to Grandparenting. Planting twin gardens, one at your house and one at your grandchild’s house, can be a rewarding endeavor. Every two weeks or so, take a snapshot of the gardens and email or send snail mail to compare growth. Ask your grandchild to start a story to which you add the next episode. Keep the story going as long as possible. This can also be done with artwork. Start a picture in pencil, pen, crayon, water color, or other medium and send back and forth until complete. Design and craft a tee shirt or have one made up with your picture on it to send to your grandchild. Keep a sheet on each grandchild noting his name, age, clothing sizes, colors, styles, favorite foods, hobbies, and favorite school subjects.
Plan your visits with the grandchildren by assessing the situation. Ask yourself: How often can I visit? Is there a time or season that is better than another? How can I help them at this time? What outings might we enjoy together? With some forethought, the visit with grandkids can be enjoyable and rewarding, as well as a help to your grown children.

Now that you have some ideas under your hat, enjoy practicing long distance grandparenting!

The Power of a Godly Grandparent, Leaving a Spiritual Legacy, Stephen and Janet Bly, Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2003
The Grandmother Principles, Suzette Haden Elgin, New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1998
Little Things Mean a Lot, Creating Happy Memories with Your Grandchildren, Susan Newman, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996
The Complete Idiots Guide to Grandparenting, Walter and Marilyn Hartt, New York: Alpha Books, 1998

Saturday, January 3, 2009


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The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...