Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Comedians Cry Too!

I was saddened to learn that Chonda Pierce’s husband, David, passed away. As a popular Christian comedian known as the “Queen of Clean,” Chonda’s made thousands, perhaps millions, of people laugh over the years.
Now it’s her turn to cry. Yes, cry. Sometimes I think we forget that comedians feel pain, grief, sadness, even depression. Yet Chonda’s been quite open about her dark night of the soul in her book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression.
Truth be told, many professional comedians admit that turning to humor helped them cope with a sad or abusive childhood. But as Proverbs 14:13a says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” (NIV).
I discovered this phenomenon as a child in school. Invariably, at least one class clown occupied every grade and kept us kids entertained all day long, often disrupting lessons, which only added to our glee. When I would go home after school, Mom, in the kitchen ironing most days, would ask me how my day went. I’d tell her about the fun we had at the expense of the class clown. She’d calmly reply, “You know, Eileen, often the person provoking the most fun is the person with the deepest hurt. He’s laughing on the outside, but on the inside, his heart is crying out for help.”
That simple message cut to the deep places of my own heart. After that, I became a champion of the class clown. Instead of laughing at all his jokes or times he’d get in trouble because of them, I tried to understand him better, befriend him.
And, on a personal note, I realized there were times when I used humor to escape dealing with my own emotional pain. There’s nothing that fuels a comedian more than having someone laugh at her jokes or silly behavior. It’s downright addictive. Thank the Lord for those discerning folks who can see beneath the humor to the hurt, who know when to ask the hard questions. My husband is one of those. While he enjoys my routine antics, he also knows me inside and out, and thankfully loves and cares for me anyway.
Don’t get me wrong—I do think a merry heart is good medicine, as the Bible notes. How often my spirits have lifted because I chose to look on the lighter side of life. But when joking around hinders me from dealing with deeper issues, then I need to set aside humor for some serious inner work of healing.  
So, when you meet someone who’s the life of the party, whether at school, at home, or in the workplace, remember to look beneath the laughter. You may just see some tears.

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!,

Monday, July 21, 2014

And the Love Continues . . .

And the love continues, even after 38 years of marriage! When we told our waitress we were celebrating our anniversary, she said, "Oh, want a free sundae?"

"Well, yeah!"

She brought the treat to our table with a candle in the middle. Nice touch after a ribeye dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.

Next stop--Hale Springs Inn, a historic B & B in Rogersville, TN, the second oldest town in Tennessee.

The view from the back. A side garden with gazebo offered a place for weddings, receptions, or parties. 

A short walk around town revealed the home of Tennessee's first newspaper. As a writer, I just had to take a picture of the sign. :)

The Rogan room offered us a comfortable and luxurious stay, complete with complimentary cookies and coffee.  Most of the antique furnishings were provided by local residents.

A wonderul cubbie hole for writing and reading. Gave me opportunity to write a few pages in my children's missionary kid series. 

Later that evening, we passed an enormous field of sunflowers on the way to the Rogersville Playhouse to see the Disney kid production of Sleeping Beauty acted out by local residents. 

The view out the window beside our breakfast table. We enjoyed sausage quiche, french toast with bacon, orange slices, juice and coffee. 

My very full and satisfied groom. To 50 and beyond, sweetie!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Clean & Sanitized!

"Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive
to God in Christ Jesus."  Romans 6:11

Eight-year-old Maggie was excited to help her mother empty the dishwasher. Noticing the red indicator light signaling that the washer had completed its cycle, Maggie exclaimed to her mom, "Oh, look, Mom, the dishes are CLEAN & SANCTIFIED!"

Mom chuckled at Maggie's misreading, but was pleased that the pastor's sermon the previous Sunday had obviously had some impact on young Maggie's mind.

Later that evening during family devotions, mom and dad pulled out the supplemental children's paper that the church provided for kids to write on while following the pastor's message. He had spoken from Romans 6 on the topic of sanctification. On one side of the page Maggie had drawn a
stick person in chains standing behind bars with the jailer (another stick figure) standing outside the prison with a scowl on his face daggling the keys in front of him. On the other side of the page, Maggie had drawn a stick figure with a huge smile on his face, unshackled, and helping a down-cast friend (another stick figure) carry a heavy load.

When dad asked Maggie to tell them about her picture, Maggie explained while pointing to her drawing, "This man in prison is enslaved to sin, just like Pastor O'Donald said on Sunday and this man over here, the one smiling and helping, is free. He serves God, so he is loving someone else."

Mom and Dad looked at each other in wonder, thrilled that Maggie was assimilating pieces of Bible doctrine.

"That's right, Maggie," Dad affirmed. Sin keeps us in prison, but Jesus offers us freedom from sin through the shed blood of His cross. When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and come into our lives, we have a new Master. We no longer need to serve sin; we are free to serve God by loving and helping others know Him! Our slates are clean before God and we are set apart to live for Him."

That night, Mom tucked Maggie into bed. Reaching over to turn off her light, Maggie winked at Mom. "You know, Mom, I'm so glad I'm CLEAN AND SANITIZED!"

"Why you little joker!" Mom said, laughing and tickling Maggie until she squealed for Mom to stop. "Yes, Maggie, I'm so glad you are too!"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Then Should We Pray?

Twenty years ago God burdened my heart for corporate prayer in a way that I had never experienced before. Sure, as a believer for thirty-two years I had done my share of praying, but this was different. God so saturated my heart and mind with the desire to pray that I devoured every book, every resource, every sermon on prayer I could get my hands on.

One book that stood out above the rest in its simplicity and practicality was What Happens When Women Pray by Evelyn Christenson. 

It was as if someone had turned a light switch on for me. No longer did prayer groups have to be long and boring, listening to one or two people drone on and on while the rest slept. With renewed excitement, I took Christenson’s format and organized three small group women’s prayer meetings which met during the week. Our groups found the style non-threatening and freeing. Here is what we did. Perhaps you will find these ideas helpful in your group.

1)   We kept groups small—no more than 5-6 people in a circle. This helped the more reserved women to participate more readily.

2)  Rather than spend time sharing requests, we simply started to pray. This helped cut down on repetition. One person would be designated to begin with just one request mentioned in a short prayer. Then each person in the circle would pray for that same request or pass off to the person beside her by lightly tapping her arm. This kept prayer time moving with the focus on one topic/person at a time, rather than multiple topics. It was exciting to see how often each person in the group had a different prayer to add concerning the topic or person mentioned. After prayer for that item passed around the circle, the next person would begin a new topic and prayer would proceed around for that issue.  Members were encouraged to feel free not to pray for every topic if they did not feel led to do so.

3)    We designated an hour for our weekly prayer time. We discovered that it takes a few minutes for group members to “warm up” to praying with one another. After the initial walls came tumbling down, members were then free to pray in earnest, baring their hearts and souls, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing together with the other members and with the Lord.

4)   Another technique our groups found refreshing was praying the Scripture back to the Lord. We would alert members to the week we would be doing this so that they could come prepared. Opening the Bible during prayer time, each member would take turns reading a passage in prayer, then thanking God for how that passage had impacted her life in some way.

Employing the above methods breathed life into our prayer time, cut down on boredom and wandering minds, and helped group members better recognize answers to prayer when God provided them since they had spent so much time praying around the circle for one person or item.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fight for the Girls

For boys, it’s all about girls. Even from a young age. Whether they love ‘em or hate ‘em, they can’t seem to ignore them. My grandsons are no exception. Lately, there’s been an ongoing battle between Gabriel and Ethan. Gabriel (3) wants “No Girls Allowed” posted on the treehouse. Ethan (5), on the other hand, wants just the opposite. He rushed into the kitchen one day asking for paper and a crayon. He plunked down at the table, crayon hovering over his paper, and said, “Grandma, how do you spell, ‘Fight for the Girls?’”
Intrigued, I sauntered over and sat beside him. Only days earlier, he’d been on the same page with Gabe, insisting that girls shouldn’t stick their noses in the boys’ business. But apparently, according to Ethan’s mother, Daddy’d had a long talk with him. And that talk made all the difference. One man to another. A guy thing.
A powerful and life-changing communication. A father’s words to his son.
And now, Ethan was all charged up to protect the girls at any cost. He dashed out the door with his sign and tape. I watched out the kitchen window. After he posted his sign on the treehouse, he rallied the other boy cousins. In a circle, they placed their hands on top of each other, their swords looped on their belts, and shouted, “One, two, three!” Then with arms raised, they yelled, “Fight for the girls!”
I couldn’t help but smile. Whatever Daddy told that sweet five-year-old boy must’ve been pretty special. Maybe in some simple, yet profound way his father had taken him to Ephesians 5:25, teaching his son that husbands give up their lives for their wives. Or maybe he’d alluded to 1 Peter 3:7, telling his son that husbands are to honor their wives, be considerate and respectful of them. Whatever he shared changed his son’s attitude and behavior. And that change rippled down through the cousin ranks.  
Oh, for more Daddies who will teach their sons to fight for the girls! To stand up and be courageous men of God. I’m so thankful for son-in-laws who desire to train their sons to fight for the girls. Only a week ago, my youngest grandson, Elijah Rivers, entered the world. His father desires him to be a man of God, like Elijah of old, who turns the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the children back to their fathers (Malachi 4:5-6).
What precious examples I have in my son-in-laws. May they ever teach their sons to fight for the girls! And may God raise up more men who desire to do the same.

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...