Friday, July 26, 2013

Things I've Learned as a Writer



  I’ve enjoyed telling stories since I was a child sharing tales with other neighborhood kids. In school, my teachers often praised my papers, and English was my favorite subject. In college, I started a journal to process my spiritual journey. When I shared a few entries with one of the piano instructors, she said, “Eileen, your writing flows so beautifully. I know God’s going to use it.” I’ve been journaling on some level ever since.

Then in 1992, a couple in the church we’d joined asked if I’d write a children’s skit for a family event. I still don’t know how they thought to ask me. God knows.


For the next seven years, I wrote church drama and newsletter articles. That small body of believers encouraged me, saying, “Eileen, your writing speaks to my heart;” “Eileen, you need to publish that play.”

Although I’d sheepishly submitted an article once to a Christian magazine, I’d never thought seriously about publication until 1998 when my husband, Chuck, asked if I’d write a syllabus for the marriage seminars we planned to conduct. I said, “Why not a book?”

The power of positive feedback fueled my efforts, and by 2000, I held my first self-published book coauthored with Chuck. My editor said, “Eileen, some people only have one book in them. You have several.” God’s gift ignited in me, and I went on to author two more non-fiction books before turning my focus to periodical writing.

Each step of the way, God gave me a specific goal in order to fulfill my writing vision. He’s never let me down.

While I never thought I’d write fiction, I opened my heart to the possibility when God woke me one morning in 2005 with the title, Journey to Judah, on my mind. Journey to Judah is a love story inspired by my single daughter’s call to career missions in India.

OakTara published Journey to Judah in 2008, followed by four other novels. They’ve been one of my best cheerleaders in my writing venture.

I’ve learned a few things over twenty-one years of active writing. In no particular order, here are a few of them.
1.     Writing is a lonely profession, but readers’ needs keep me company.
2.     On occasion, writing blows every brain circuit, and I need a rest.
3.     Sometimes writing comes easier in the woods.
4.     A walk around the block clears my head and energizes my spirit.
5.     Singing in the morning sets me up for a happy workday.
6.    A hug from Chuck before he heads off to work encourages me to take the next step to my writing office.
7.    A good book educates and entertains me, while a nap replenishes me in the afternoons.
8.    God continually wants me to humble my heart.
9.     I must view writing critiques with an objective eye then make a decision.
10.  The writing process both reveals and shapes my character.
11.  No one thinks my words are as important as I do.
12.  I need large doses of quiet time to detect what God has for me.
13. Only God knows the impact of my writing.
14. When I engage in other art forms, I enhance my writing.
15.  Journal entries, family times, friendships, service, and mission trips can ignite ideas.
16. Some of my best writing originates out of the deepest places of pain.
17. Only other writers understand a writer’s life.
18. To write is to be vulnerable.
19. I must write.
20.  A biblical worldview informs my writing.
21. There is no subject so small I can’t write about it, for God’s lessons abound everywhere.
22. Writing for God’s glory is my chief desire.
23. I love to write; I hate to write. And I suspect it will always be so, at least on this side of heaven.

~~
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
  

Friday, July 12, 2013

Together . . . Sharing His Love

I giggled when I saw this picture, because we've had frequent summer showers. The sky's poured rain like sand from a dump truck. In the midst of the weather, Chuck and I celebrate 37 years of marriage this month, starting with massages last night, continuing with a B & B tonight, and ending with horseback riding tomorrow, providing the showers hold off. 

But then, maybe we could don our umbrellas and ride anyway! Perhaps ride together with one heart-shaped umbrella covering us. Might be a bit awkward, but isn't marriage that way at times?

Awkward. Messy. Uncomfortable. 

With this anniversary, we purpose once again to hide ourselves under the umbrella of God's love, committed to working toward a common goal: share His love through our relationship, so that those around us might catch a glimpse of Him, maybe even ask what makes our marriage so special.

With a smile, we'll tell them. 

Christ's power working in and through us keeps us united. Keeps us loving. Keeps us pressing on to know Him and know one another, through the ups and through the downs. 

All the way to the finish line.

Our couple motto: To 50 and beyond!

Will you join with us in celebration of traditional marriage? Turn to your mate and give her/him a smile and a kiss. Determine to work together to advance Christ's cause through your relationship.   

Sunday, July 7, 2013

New devotional by Darlene Franklin--It is Well with My Soul

Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin lives in Oklahoma near her son’s family. Darlene loves music, needlework, reading, and reality TV. She has published several titles with Barbour Publishing, including her two latest releases, A Bride’s Rogue in Roma, Texas, and Merry Christmas, With Love, in Postmark: Christmas. She has also written two books in the Texas Trails series with RiverNorth Fiction, Lone Star Trail and A Ranger’s Trail. She’s a member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers.

 


Darlene, if you picked one devotional from your book that is most meaningful to you, which would it be and why?

I've had reason to think about several of them recently, as I've been writing devotionals from Job at http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com/.  One that caught my attention especially was Job 26:14: And these are but the outer fringe of his works, how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power? 

The verse made me think of the devotional I wrote inspired by the words "voice of the Lord" in the beloved hymn, It Is Well with My Soul, the basis for the devotions.  God sometimes speaks to us in a whisper--but as a young colleague of mine pointed out, God can always get louder. 

When the Lord returns in the thunder of His power--and the blare of trumpets--no one can fail to hear. 

It serves as a reminder that God wants to sing over us and whisper to us. He doesn't like getting loud. 


Thanks for sharing a bit about your new devotional, It is Well with My Soul, Darlene! May the Lord use this work to touch readers' hearts!



You can find Darlene online at http://darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/darlene.franklin.3 You may also be interested in Darlene's Facebook page, Darlene’s 5 Questions a Day (https://www.facebook.com/groups/542991419047696/?bookmark_t=group) where she answers the first five questions related to the writing life posed on any given day. Group members are also welcome to contribute.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Time Changer


My journey through the Bible has brought me to Numbers. Over and over again, the writer Moses notes that "the Lord spoke" to him. Through his servant Moses, God spoke His law, and Moses delivered His Word to the children of Israel.

This recurring phrase, "the Lord spoke," is significant. The LORD as Master is establishing His authority to instruct His people on His rules and regulations for living: everything from the Ten Commandments to regulations concerning offerings, atonement, and the practical matters of life.

To simply say, "Be moral, be nice, be good" would not be enough. His law had to be stamped with His signature, "Thus says the Lord."

This teaching occurred to me, after the fact, when my grandchild was acting up in the back seat of the car. Finally, I turned around and said, "Be nice; don't act ugly." The next morning it dawned on me that a better thing to say would have been, "It hurts grandma when you disobey your mommy. Jesus says in the Bible to obey your mommy and daddy. He wants you to listen to them because it is the right thing to do and because it will be good for you. And you will be happier for it."

With these words, I would be stating the authority upon which morality and goodness rest: the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we try to be moral and good in ourselves we fail miserably, and we are miserable. Only the righteous God of heaven can make us righteous. And this goodness comes through His perfect Son's atoning work on the Cross. It is by His authority that we can be righteous and live righteously.

Sadly, those who have taught the importance of morality without citing the authority upon which that morality rests have been deceived and are deceiving. Self-effort alone can never produce lasting goodness. Sooner or later, all human effort fails.

In Christ's righteousness alone do we stand. It is in Him that we find our life, joy, peace, and goodness.

Chuck and I viewed a movie last night that perpetuated this biblical teaching. According to the back jacket blurb, TIME CHANGER takes place "in 1890 where Bible professor Russell Carlisle has written a new manuscript entitled 'The Changing Times.' His book is about to receive a unanimous endorsement from the board members of the Grace Bible Seminary until his colleague Dr. Norris Anderson (Gavin MacLeod) raises an objection. Dr. Anderson believes that what Carlisle has written could greatly affect the future of coming generations. Using a secret time machine, Anderson sends Carlisle over 100 years into the future, offering him a glimpse of where his beliefs will lead."

Sadly, we are living that projection.

If you haven't seen this eye-opening movie, I highly recommend it, for young and old alike. We must move people back to the authority of the Word of God, for therein lies our goodness, hope, life, and future.

Thus says the Lord . . .

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

America, Bless God

"So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today."  -Deut. 6:24

Ever since 9/11, I get a little irritated when I pass signs and billboards that boldly proclaim, "GOD BLESS AMERICA." While it is encouraging to see folks turn to God, I have to ask:  Has He not blessed America already? The real issue is, what are we doing with those blessings? In our greed and complacency (and that goes for Christians and non-Christians alike), we feel we deserve more. We're Americans--Hear us roar! We're superior; we're better; we deserve freedom.

But are we willing to pay the price? Some are. They have already demonstrated their commitment. But I fear the vast majority are simply spewing off lofty platitudes with no real substance to back up their words. I hope I am not one of them. Writing these words is a wake-up call to examine my heart and see what I am really made of. As Americans, and especially Christian Americans, our day of persecution may be dawning brighter.

 I pray we are ready.

Christians all over the world have suffered greatly for their faith down through the centuries. It has been reported that more Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than all other centuries combined. Islam zealots have hounded believers for over one thousand years. Their goal is to erase Christianity from the globe in the name of Allah. They truly believe they are serving God and are willing to die for the cause. With ease of communication and transportation, the world is smaller. Access is easier. Persecution a very real threat.

But everywhere that persecution thrives, so does Christianity! Instead of being squelched and snuffed out, Christianity prospers. The Church of the living God multiplies. Believers are thankful and joyful, even when suffering. Only the one, true God can provide that kind of strength!

Perhaps, it is because we as Americans have had such an easy time that we are complacent and lethargic. We are riding the coattails of our founding fathers who did pay the price, who did honor God. And God, in turn, blessed our great country on account of their commitment to godly principles. You see, God blesses the country who blesses Him. It has always been so, all down through the ages.

Somewhere along the line, we as Americans have forgotten to pass the baton to succeeding generations. The further each generation gets from the source of blessing, the easier it is for them to become lazy and ungrateful. That's why in the Old Testament, God urged Moses time and time again to encourage the Israelites to pass the baton of faith down to their children and their children's children. He commanded them to tell their children how HE had delivered them from their enemies. He told them to write it down "for the generation to come; that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord" (Psalm 102:18). The godly passion of the parents rubbed off on the kids. They constantly rehearsed God's words and feared His honored and awesome name (Deut. 28:58). And when the people strayed, God gave them an option: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life, in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days" (Deut.30:19-20). When the people honored God, He delivered them from their enemies.

Sadly, America has come along way from honoring God. We have forgotten our godly roots implanted by our forefathers. They acknowledged a God in heaven who rules in the affairs of men and chose to honor Him first. But somehow, as time wore on, succeeding generations lost the vision and basked in the sun of God's blessing without returning the blessing. We turned our back on the very God who had endowed us with liberty, countless wealth and resources. In our pursuit of happiness and equality, we stripped His name and His story from our children's textbooks. We denied His name spoken in prayer in school and public events. We tore down His commandments from our courthouses. We purged our schools, stores, and public squares from any semblance of the true meaning of Christmas and Easter. And as time goes on, we silence men of God, pushing them further into their pulpits, because that's where Christianity belongs, right? "Keep it in your church, but don't infringe on my rights by forcing God on me," we hear today. How long will it be before the pulpit is no longer a safe and honored place? How far will Satan have to drive us before we speak out on behalf of God and our founding fathers?

There will be no stopping secular humanism and false religious ideologies from advancing if we as God's children don't take a righteous stand against Satan's agenda. He is out for the destruction of the human race. And he would love nothing more than to see the Christian faith stamped from the face of the earth!

One of the most compelling political cartoons I have ever seen was published during World War II, when American hearts were once again turned toward God. The cartoon pictures Uncle Sam kneeling by a bed in a typical American bedroom. A portrait of a soldier hangs on the wall above the bed. Uncle Sam's head is bowed and his hands are folded in prayer. Oh, how we need to once again rely on God as our strength and sufficiency as Americans lift the defenders of freedom up to the throne!

With that said, what are you doing today to pass along God's blessings? What am I doing today?

Perhaps you could pass a tract to a service man who comes to your home for a repair. Or maybe pray with a troubled neighbor. Perhaps call your congressman and express your opinion on an urgent bill affecting religious freedom. Or pray with a parent who has a son in the military. Maybe you could sit down with your child, open the history book, and share how GOD used his servants to birth a country under His name so that the gospel could be spread to other lands. One of Columbus's primary motives in seeking out the new world was to perpetuate the gospel. George Washington's personal diary is full of entries addressed to his God and Saviour and records hours of time spent on his knees in prayer. But those are two facts the average textbook conveniently ignores. There are many, many others! Our future generation needs to know what America is really all about!

Find one way you can share God's blessings today with someone else. Be a part of restoring godliness to a nation who desperately needs a return to its roots. Keep rehearsing God's faithfulness to your children. 

Only as America blesses God will He bless America!