Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Grandmother's Legacy, Part I

I never knew my grandmothers. When I was five months old, my maternal grandmother died of a heart attack when she visited our home. The only memory of my paternal grandmother was when I was four years old. She collapsed in the bathroom. My friend and I playing outside the closed door heard her fall and ran to tell my mother. 

While I didn’t have the advantage of personally knowing my grandmothers, I did absorb the stories my parents told me about them. I’d often sneak into my daddy’s home office, lift a framed picture from the shelf, and study their images. Soft round cheeks. Smiling eyes with just a hint of turned up mouth. According to Mama and Daddy, my grandmothers left a rich legacy of hard work, faith in God, and love for family. 

But I didn’t really know what I’d missed by not knowing my grandmothers until I met my husband’s Grandma Hazel. She lived across the street from his family home in Ohio, and whenever we visited, she swept us back to the kitchen for homemade cookies and ice cream. Our girls played with her massive button collection, cradled her antique baby doll, and rocked in her wooden child’s rocker. That chair now sits in one of our bedrooms and is used by our grandchildren. I loved sitting on the sofa at Grandma Hazel’s house, listening to her tell stories of her childhood while the wall clock ticked in the background. She’d lean forward in her seat, eyes twinkling, and share with great detail how she worked hard growing up on a farm.
In the book, Hand of Providence, the Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan, written by Mary Beth Brown, the author shares how instrumental Reagan’s mother Nelle was in instilling faith in God, a strong work ethic, integrity, and a bright outlook on life. Later, when  Reagan had children of his own, his mother played a significant role in pointing them toward Christ and biblical values. 

Brown goes on to illustrate the remarkable contribution grandmothers can make in their grandchildren’s spiritual lives. She shares about the babushkas (old grandmothers) during the Russian Revolution, a period in history when Communist leaders, intent on wiping every trace of God from public life, destroyed churches and synagogues, Bibles, and religious books. They imprisoned, tortured, and killed Christians and Jews, all in an effort to stamp out religion. The Communists shrugged off the babushkas, thinking they were harmless. But they were in for a surprise! After the disintegration of the Berlin Wall and communism, the leaders discovered millions of Russians who remained loyal to their faith in God. Even though the communists had spent over 70 years trying desperately to snuff out religion, they had failed. The gentle, quiet faith of the babushkas as they had rocked babies, sang hymns, whispered Scripture, and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with their grandchildren spawned a generation of people who still worshiped God (80-81). 

Now that I have grandchildren, I want to be that kind of grandmother who leaves a godly legacy of faith to the next generation (see Psalm 71:18).

In order to do this, I must be intentional and purposeful in my pursuit. Stay tuned for “A Grandmother’s Legacy, Part II,” where I will share practical ways you can instill biblical values in the minds and hearts of your grandchildren. And if you’re not a grandma yet, the principles still apply to working with your children.
Eileen Rife, author of the Born for India trilogy, enjoys toasting marshmallows, blowing bubbles, swimming, making crafts, reading, sharing family stories, and cuddling with her six grandchildren. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Every mom at some time or another has done it . . .

I wager a guess every mom at some time or another has done it. 

When the girls were little I would flee to the bathroom, not to use the john, or sit on the naughty chair, but to hide out. Time-out for mom, I called it. Another word for that is “coward time." Hiding in the bathroom to escape the tyranny of childish ways. The whining. Fussing. Arguing. 

With door closed and locked, my charges would sit on the other side begging mom to come out while I ruminated on the throne. It wasn’t all bad, really. I had the place fixed up quite nicely. Linen hand towels. Sweet-smelling soaps and lotions. Candles. Miniature lamps. Home decorating magazines. Soft, thick toilet paper, just right for making out grocery lists. I was a queen in her castle. And for a few brief minutes of privacy I could breathe free, recharge, regroup, and reconsider how to deal with my children during those times when tempers flared and tongues wagged. 

When all grew quiet on the other side of the door I knew it was time to leave my refuge. Quiet could mean either trouble or bliss. Of course, I hoped for the latter which would reaffirm in my mind that my little exit to the bathroom had been sufficient to redirect the girls. More often than not, when I would crack the door and peek out, the girls would flood out of their rooms and surround me with sweet hugs. Mischievous imps in angels’ clothing. I knew this, but the hugs always threw me for a loop and I would succumb to their endearing ways. 

Hiding in the bathroom offered a respite for me and redirection for the girls. Time alone ushered me into the throne room of God where I could vent my frustration and seek God’s wisdom. I became the little child running to her Daddy, climbing up in His lap and throwing my arms around His neck. His face so full of love and patience in spite of my many childish fits and complaints. His arms so strong in spite of my weakness. His hands so gentle in spite of my folly. His smile so warm in spite of my coldness at times. And His heart so full for me. I leaned in to Him and heard His quiet song of love. I heard His words of comfort and direction. A Father talking to His daughter. In that moment, all was well. I could face my charges once again. The parent had been parented.

I always knew that room of the house was good for more than one thing.

 Eileen Rife, author of the Born for India trilogy, enjoys time with her three grown daughters. Her six grandchildren inspired the soon-release, Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones (OakTara). www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who Will Weep for the Homosexual?

The question, “Who will weep for the homosexual?” has been ruminating in my mind and heart the last day or so.

Is my heart broken for these individuals who through their same-sex thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are longing for a relationship that satisfies?

Those with unwanted same-sex attraction are craving the beauty and pureness of God’s original intent: marriage between one man and one woman for a lifetime (Genesis 2:24-25; Mark 10:6-9; Ephesians 5: 22-33). Moses, Jesus, and Paul tie together the thread of Scripture on marriage, reiterating God’s created design for male and female who are equipped and sanctioned to come together as one flesh. 

The yearning in the heart of one who longs to follow God’s intended model, but feels s/he cannot, creates enormous emotional, psychological, and spiritual conflict.

And rightly so. As with any sinful dysfunction—whether it be greed, alcoholism, compulsive eating, stealing, shopping, or lying—it is conflict that can move the hurting individual to seek help. Pain paves the way for change. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the apostle Paul presents one of the strongest statements concerning the truth that homosexuals can indeed change. In this passage, homosexuality is listed as one among many sins that the Corinthian believers had been delivered from. Paul says, But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  What great hope this offers those dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction.  

However, restoration is not an easy process. The inner need for acceptance, approval, and love can drive a person to seek satisfaction in any number of forms. An addiction is a person’s way of addressing a love hunger for God, temporarily anesthetizing the emotional pain that usually comes from past hurts. The addiction satisfies for a time—Satan’s way of reeling the person in—but sooner or later the addiction results in a sickening spiral down. The ensuing lack of control creates a greater need, and thus the addiction fuels itself.

For my character, Tim, in the novel RESTORED HEARTS, he seeks the male affirmation he missed from his father in eroticized relationships with other men. The Holy Spirit keeps nudging his heart, causing him to realize the deception of his behavior. He runs from Boston back to his missionary upbringing in India in hopes that he can leave his homosexual lifestyle behind once and for all. But he soon discovers he cannot.

It takes the wise discernment of the mission psychologist to help Tim unearth the roots of his sinful dysfunction and enter into a healing process which incorporates a loving relationship with Jesus Christ at the center. Dr. Hauser weeps for and with this hurting young man over his loss of paternal love and approval. As a godly father figure, he stands with him as he faces his brother’s anger and rejection. When others ignore Tim, Dr. Hauser remains by his side as he struggles, fails, and gets back up again. Like Jesus, he presents a mix of truth and grace. Conviction and compassion.  He helps Tim embrace his identity in Christ as a beloved, fully forgiven, and totally accepted son of the heavenly Father (Ephesians, chapter one).  

As I developed my character Tim, I, too, wept alongside of him. His pain became my own. I grieved when his brother rejected him, when the pastor ignored him, and when the Indian girl, Esha, loved him, but was ignored by him because Tim could not respond to her affection. I saw myself in the differing reactions and I was moved to tears.

My prayer is that I will continue to weep for the homosexual. The struggle is great and not to be minimized in any way. It is a cry for relationship with the Father. Something each of us can prayerfully identify with.


Eileen Rife is the author of RESTORED HEARTS, Book two in the Born for India trilogy. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States as well as overseas. www.eileenrife.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A stranger's life hangs in the balance . . .

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love and learn to depend on the Perfect Love that drives out all fear? Or will her new love be snatched away before it has a chance to bloom? 

Author of Snow on the Tulips, Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. 

Congratulations, Liz, on your debut novel, Snow on the Tulips! What inspired you to write this story

On April 11, 1945, the German occupiers marched 13 Resistance workers to the edge of a canal in the Netherlands and shot them. This was in retaliation for an incident a few days earlier in which the Resistance blew up rail lines and derailed a German train. Twelve of the men died. One survived. The man who survived was found and brought to my aunt's home. Though he was seriously wounded, she nursed him until the Canadians liberated the area just five days later. 

When my father visited the Netherlands, he heard this family story and brought it back. I was only in junior high at the time, but I was fascinated and knew that someday I wanted to tell the world what happened that day. I have taken the incident and fictionalized it and have also worked in other stories I've been told about the time. It was amazing to do the research and learn what great courage and faith these people had in the face of such desperate circumstances.

Wow, Liz, love it when real life inspires a novel. One of my favorite historical fascinations is WW II. Thanks for picking up this challenging, touching story and running with it!
What is one fun thing my readers might not know about you? 

Okay, totally off the wall. I love Swiss cake rolls. The Little Debbie kind. Anyway, I eat the chocolate coating first, then bite off the ends. Then I lick out all of the frosting on the inside and finally I eat the cake. Been doing it that way since I was little and I don't know why.

I'm giggling, Liz, 'cause you remind me of my sister. She had special ways of eating food, too. Like popcorn. She'd bite off the puffed balls, set them aside to collect into a pile, then stuff a fist full into her mouth. She also liked to soak a piece of white bread in the bottom of her bowl of chicken noodle soup. She's now a caterer. No surprise there. She loved experimenting with recipes while growing up.

Thanks for joining me and my readers today, Liz! 
God's best to you with Snow on the Tulips! 

Visit Liz at the following locations.
www.liztolsma.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@LizTolsma). She is also a regular contributor to the Barn Door blog. 

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

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