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 .

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 to 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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Choosing Point of View and Verb Tense for Your Story

            Probably one of the most basic constructs of any story is point of view, yet many novice writers find the concept confusing. Do I write in first person, third person, or can I use an omniscient point of view? Do I use past or present tense?
            The answer largely has to do with the type of effect your plot requires.
First Person/Present
If you want to create a sense of immediacy, employ present tense with either first or third person. In my novel, Second Chance, I use first person, present tense since the story seemed to dictate this approach. Whenever I tried to go back and write it in third person, past tense (the most popular, by the way), the story didn’t carry the punch I desired.  Since the story line involves an empty nest mom grieving the departure of her last child from home and her process of getting on with life/investing in her marriage, first person/present puts the reader squarely into Mave’s shoes, experiencing her journey with her as the story unfolds. Notice the following sample from Second Chance.
Good grief! A silly tree on a bathmat makes me cry.
            I laugh through my tears as Jerry stumbles into the bathroom, nearly tripping over me on the way to the toilet. “What in the world are you doing on the floor, Mave?”
            “Picking lint off the mat?” I contort my face, hoping he’ll believe me, but I don’t sound very confident. Lint-picking is certainly something he could relate to. Jerry’s so particular that he lines up his shoes every night before climbing into bed. The only thing he isn’t particular about is our marriage.
            “Can’t you do it some place else?” He steps around me.
            Keeping up my fa├žade, I sweep the mat from underneath his feet and stomp to the bedroom. I hug the rug to my chest and indulge a few more tears as Jerry turns on the shower. Strains of “Singin’ in the Rain” echo from the stall. I half expect to see him hop out of the shower with umbrella in hand and dance about the room like Gene Kelly.
            Notice how the first person, present approach almost slows the reading, placing you smack dab into Mave’s predicament. You begin to feel her pain with her, perhaps in a deeper way than third person/past could achieve.
Third Person/Past
            By far, the most popular choice in current fiction writing is third person/past. This works particularly well with romance novels where the writer uses a hero and heroine, bouncing back and forth between their points of view. Notice the following sample from my novel, Laughing with Lily.
Regret barged into the bedroom and refused to leave. Like one of the boxes Celeste had carried from their trailer to their new house, a dark secret weighed heavy on her heart, especially in the last year.
She surveyed the pile of cartons beside the bed and located the one marked “Framed Pictures.” Tearing away the tissue paper, she smoothed her hand over the cool glass surface lodged inside the pewter frame, corners adorned with inlaid sapphires. A bride and groom smiled back at her. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Tatem.
In spite of her dismal mood, she was determined to enjoy her anniversary.
The heady aroma of English Leather entered the bedroom as she studied the portrait. She spun around and faced her husband. A silly grin ruffled his lips. She smiled and melted into Joe’s arms. She reached up and pressed her index finger into the dimple in his chin.
“Okay, you can come out now.” His voice teased her. “But first, put this on.” He gently turned her around and tied a bandanna over her eyes.
Counter to my experience with Second Chance, when I tried to write Laughing with Lily in first person, present, it simply didn’t work. The plot seemed to demand a third person/past approach, perhaps due to Celeste’s past pain, the regret she harbored. I wanted to accentuate the past in the reader’s mind to help her/him enter into Celeste’s grief and battle to let go.
            Many beginning writers, myself included, naturally fall into the trap of writing in the omniscient point of view in which the reader can enter into the thoughts and feelings of all the characters at once. While this used to be a popular point of view in the nineteenth century, it is not so much so today. Readers enjoy and appreciate entering the mind and experience of ONE character per scene. Only what the point of view character can see, feel, taste, touch, hear, and think is presented. This helps the reader really get to know and identify with one to three central characters in the story.
            This was difficult for me to achieve in my early years of fiction writing. Since I had written dramas, I saw my scenes as displayed on a stage, witnessing much of what an audience would, knowing what each character is doing, saying, thinking. Over time, with practice and mentoring, I learned to confine my scene to one character’s perception.

What point of view/verb tense feels the most natural to you? What form do you enjoy reading?
            Share with my readers for a chance to win a print copy of Chosen Ones

A couple in crisis.
A child taken captive.
When their worlds intersect, each of them will receive a special gift, but will they find it in their hearts to accept an outcome so different from what they expected and hoped for?

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...