Sunday, June 29, 2014

Laughing with Lily Celebration Giveaway!



In honor of the upcoming birth of my seventh grandchild,
I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Laughing with Lily!
 
A long-buried secret. An unexpected encounter. A quest for answers. Celeste Tatem, a special-education teacher at The Brighton Center in Schreiber, Indiana, couldn't be more in love with her husband, Joe. But the memory of one day in the past haunts her, threatening their relationship. When Joe dies in a factory explosion, she sinks into depression. It will take the arrival of a new student, Lily, and her delightful honesty, laughter, and joy at life's little things to awaken Celeste to hope. 
 
When Don, an old flame from college, reenters Celeste's world, the flickers of love stir once again, and startling questions arise. Questions that threaten to rip the veneer off of her carefully guarded secret. Then the most unexpected thing of all happens.... A story of love and forgiveness in the most unexpected places. 
 
'Reaches into the deepest recesses of women's hearts, encouraging them to hold tight to those they hold dear.'-JENNIFER SLATTERY, Novel Reviews. 
 
'Sweet, suspenseful, and heartwarming. I couldn't put it down.'-DIANE DEAN WHITE, Seeds of Encouragement blog. 
 
'A top-notch, no-holds-barred, excellent story full of twists and turns, dilemmas, inspiration, and romance.'-KATHLEEN FREEMAN, Beauty in Simplicity, Hope in Hard Times. 
 

Stop by my FB event page and leave a bit of parental advice for the new mom and enter to win. Winner announced on July1!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Free-time Zone


What time zone do you live in? Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, or Pacific? Some accuse me of living in the O-Zone at times. That's okay, let them hurl their insults. Because where I am really dwelling at such times is in the FREE-TIME ZONE.

Yes, that's what I said--the free-time zone. The zone where schedules fly out the window and daydreaming zooms in. Time for creativity and imagination to flow. Time to kickback and do absolutely nothing. Summertime, one might think. But, alas, all too many are consumed by their daytimer, even in the summer.

"Oh, wait a minute," my friend says over the phone. "Let me grab my little black schedule book and see if I can squeeze in a lunch date. Umm, I have to take Jenny to gymnastics camp tomorrow. And oh, Johnny  has a play date at the neighbor's house on Friday. Maybe next week? Oh, wait a minute, we're going out of town...."

"Uh, Mary," I break in on my friend's frantic search through her day planner. "Just call me when you have a free moment to go out somewhere and chat."

I hang up the phone and wonder, What is it about the new millenium that requires play to be scheduled? Even today's kids have their lives scheduled to the hilt. Free time just to be, to dream, to create is scheduled away. And the sad part about it is that many parents think this busyness is healthy, productive, and the best way to nurture their children's growth and education. Well, God bless them. If this lifestyle is the legacy of the baby boomer generation, then I want no part of it. Perhaps that hint of rebellion in my spirit is one thing that led us to home school our kids. Flexibility. Freedom to discover. Time for the girls to think their own thoughts and form their own ideas, without someone constantly looking over their shoulders or telling them what to think. Guidance, yes. Books, yes. An occasional class or scheduled field trip, certainly. But in addition to all of that, especially in the younger years, large doses of FREE TIME. For that is what fosters great contributors to our society. Just look at Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein. Enough said.

When I was growing up in the carefree, laid-back mountains of Tennessee, my friends and I roamed freely from neighborhood to neighborhood. Up hills. Down hills. In the attic. Up trees. Down trees. Sometimes, we hid behind a large bush and set up housekeeping. Or played tea party in the kitchen, sipping "Kool-Aid tea" from tiny plastic cups and saucers. Later, we mixed water with food coloring or "special" berries we had collected from our mountain jaunts in our homemade laboratory in the tool shed. We could transform just as easily into cops and robbers on our speeding bikes or construct a "tent" with blankets between two chairs. In the evening, as the sun slid quietly behind the mountain, we caught fireflies and collected them in glass jars with holes in the lid. Late into the night, neighbors could hear us hollering and running after the little illusive creatures, until our parents called us in. Reluctantly, we trudged to the house with our jars, put them on our bedroom shelves, and watched them flicker on and off as we drifted to sleep.

The next day was just as eventful. Oh, nothing planned in particular. No car rides to the zoo or soccer practice. Just idly lying in the grass, making shapes out of the clouds overhead. Or rolling down the grassy hill, until the world spun all around us. Then at dusk, as the sun crept behind the mountain, we ran for our jars to see who could trap the most fireflies, while our folks talked in the front yard about important things, like world affairs and how they felt the President was doing running the country.

I'm so thankful my parents lived in the FREE-TIME ZONE. They left a treasured legacy to me. There have been those moments when I have cowered under the world's pressure to conform and move away from the free-time zone. But I simply shake myself and remember that even though I am grown now (though some would argue otherwise), I have not moved. I still live in the free-time zone. And though many things require a schedule, much in life does not. When I remember that, then I am free to stop and sniff a rose, sit on the deck and dream, or stay in bed late and pull the covers over my own little world. That is the stuff of greatness. Without it, folks suffocate, wither, and the world spits out one carbon copy after another.

So, my dear and probably overly busy friend, what time zone do you live in? If you feel captive to your time zone, why not break loose from your schedule today and travel to the FREE-TIME ZONE, even if only for an hour or two? You will come away refreshed and ready to tackle that day planner again, maybe with some new ideas to implement.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Beach Beatitudes

Beach season is upon us! Perhaps your family plans to head off for your annual “chill-out” or should I say, “burn-out” since the hot winds of the seaside are hardly conducive to chilling. Although I do believe burn-out is what we are each trying to escape or avoid or come out of (whichever may be the case in any given year). Even when funds are low, Chuck insists that we need this week of refreshment. Who am I to argue? So days ahead, we begin pulling out buried goggles, boogie boards, beach towels, and swimsuits.

Every year, my dear husband reminds me to purchase 50+ sunscreen even though he wears a long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap with a large bandana attached to the back into the ocean. He looks more like he's part of a caravan traveling by camel-back through the hot, dry desert than merely jumping into the waves for some afternoon fun. Generally speaking, when my beach beauty daughters see him sauntering down the sand toward the ocean in his more than unusual garb, they look the other way or bury their heads in a magazine. I simply smile and say, "Isn't he cute? Gotta love him!" They sigh and apply more sun lotion to their already brown, baked bodies. Perhaps someday we girls will see the wisdom of the man in our lives with his hanky laden cap bobbing up and down in the water. At least we know how to locate him.

Indeed, for our family, the "beach week" is a time to kick back, be free, and experience individual and family delights, whether it's reading a good book, playing a round of golf, shopping at Bare Foot Landing, or playing Marco Polo in the pool. It is a time to refresh, relax, reflect, and regroup. But with the freedom comes a sense of foreboding that Satan is lurking behind some dark corner ready to snatch us by the throat and draw us in to some hidden temptation.

That is exactly why each year we covenant together to request the honor of Jesus' presence at our vacation. Not that He isn't there with us already through the Spirit that lives within; He most definitely is there, but we find it helpful to verbally ask Him to make us AWARE of His presence. It is far too easy to give in to subtle and not-so-subtle pressures to conform to society's agenda when sunbathing on the beach or viewing billboards along the road. When we ask Jesus to take us by the hand while strolling down the beach, we are far more apt to guard our hearts and heads and thwart those temptations that walk past.

Here are some helpful ways to include Jesus on your vacation.


BEACH BEATITUDES

   *B eware of Satan's tactics. Don't let your guard down just because it's time to relax. Remember Satan never goes on vacation.

   *E at in moderation. Resist the urge to woof down every delicacy in sight. It only brings regret later as you try to work off accumulated pounds.

   *A sk Jesus to shield your eyes, protect your thoughts, guard your heart, and guide your steps. The Psalmist, a man speaking from experience, once said, "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes"(Psalm 101:3). Wise advice.

   *C ommit your way unto the Lord. Ask Him to open doors of witness for you. Pass out tracts at each gas station. Leave one with a tip at restaurants. Listen to people in the elevators to discover spiritual hunger. If you ask for an open door, God will provide one. Watch for the door.

   *H elp people in need along the way as God prompts you to do so. Be polite and courteous to others in the parking lot. Take turns at the pool shower. Little deeds of kindness can lead to a greater witness. Remember, we never take a vacation from the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

This vacation, whether you're headed to the beach, the mountains, or around the corner for a cool soda, invite Jesus to come along. You'll have the time of your life!

~~
Visit my Amazon author page for some fun and meaningful vacation reads!



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In Memory of My Father: Daddy's Hands

My father (Robert Franklin Hinkle) as a little fellow

Dad as a teenager in the roaring 20s! His future brother-in-law led him to the Lord when he was standing on the street corner at age 19

Daddy as a handsome young man

Daddy and his bride, my mother, on their honeymoon (1940)

Daddy holding his first child (I think:). There were four of us. I was the youngest. 

In honor of my father, now in heaven, I'm sharing an article titled "Daddy's Hands" that I wrote 15 years ago and also gifted to my Dad who was 87 at the time. He lived to the age of 94, following my mom to heaven two years after her death. 

~~

A large hand reached down to grasp my small hand. My Daddy was walking me to school. I looked up at him in wonder. He was so tall. So strong. Dark wavy hair framed his tanned face. Deep blue eyes twinkled in the morning light. A whistle spewed from his lips. I felt safe. My Daddy was with me.
           
Lost in my reflection, I suddenly felt Daddy's hand gently release mine and nudge me inside the school door. As he squeezed me, he planted a warm kiss on my cheek.

My heart sank to let Daddy go. I fought back the tears, reassuring myself that I would soon be home again.

The school bell rang and I bolted for the school door. Several yards down the sidewalk, I skidded to a stop. I waited as the traffic light changed from red to green. Then I dashed across the street to Mr. Adam's store, my routine stopping place after a tiring school day.

Inside the store, the aroma of fresh fruit filled my nostrils. I observed Mr. Adams in his blood-stained apron slicing meat behind the glass counter. Up front, the cashier rang up an elderly lady's goods as the bag boy meticulously sorted the items into a bag.

I veered to the right, past the cashier and straight to my favorite aisle--CANDY LANE! My mouth watered as I eyed the chocolate bars, lollipops, and bubble gum.

Mmm, what am I in the mood for today? I pondered. After scanning the goodie buffet, I decided on a two-cent piece of bubble gum--the rectangular pink kind with the twin halves wrapped in cartoon paper. I reached in my pocket to retrieve my money. To my chagrin, my pockets were empty. I frantically racked my brain for a solution. The thought struck that since kind Mr. Adams often gave me candy, he probably wouldn't care if I took this tiny piece of bubble gum. Settled in my mind, I quickly shoved the gum in my pocket and hurried to the door.

Once home, I laid the gum beside my book bag on the kitchen table and went to the sink to get a drink of water. Just then, Daddy entered the kitchen. In his typical booming fashion, he spoke: "How was school today?"

"Fine," I glibly responded.

Daddy glanced at my book bag and then at the gum. "Where'd you get the gum?" he casually asked.

I set my glass down and slowly turned to face Daddy while bracing my body against the counter. A flicker of guilt flashed across my mind. Hot shame started at my neck and crept up into my face.

Clearing my throat, I answered, "At Adam's Store." I hoped Daddy would be satisfied with that answer. He wasn't.  He knew he had not given me any treat money that day. Daddy persisted in his line of questioning. All of a sudden, I felt like I'd stepped into a wild west show. I was the bad guy and daddy was the law. I didn't like this show-down. I wanted to run away with the dust at my heels and not look back. But there would be no running today. I was cornered and I knew it.

"Did Mr. Adams give you the gum, Eileen?" Daddy asked. My face turned red. I felt hot again. Like a trapped firefly trying to escape from a sealed jar, I longed for release from Daddy's questions.

At last I mustered the courage to speak. "Well...no," I stammered, looking down at the floor. I nervously slid one foot back and forth across the tile. "But Mr. Adams always gives us candy anyway," I shot back. My words even sounded hollow to my ears. I knew I was in serious trouble. Daddy placed a high premium on honesty. This act of treachery was going to cost me. I watched daddy's hands. I expected him to spank me. Instead, he reached for the phone and called Mr. Adams.

When Daddy hung up the phone, he turned and faced me. "You best take that gum back," he said with resolve. As I started to leave, Daddy softened. He took my arm and gently patted my back. "Supper will be ready when you get home," he said.

In that instant, I felt a reassuring love emanating from Daddy's hands. He had used his hands not only to instruct, but also to love, reminding me of my heavenly Father. How often God’s Son had used His hands to love people, to teach, to heal, and then to submit to the nails. All for my benefit.

My dad is eighty-seven now. He shuffles when he walks. I take his weak hand in my strong hand. He looks up at me with a smile and that familiar twinkle in his clear blue eyes and I smile back.

“Isn’t God good?” Daddy says.

“Yes, Daddy, He sure is,” I respond.

~~

Eileen Rife, author of the Born for India trilogy, speaks to women’s groups on a variety of topics. Her current works in progress include Dancing in the Rain, coauthored with Jennifer Slattery, December Sunrise, inspired by the Sandy Hook shootings, Breathe Deeply God’s Grace, a devotional, the Savvy Sisters series, and a Missionary Kid series patterned after the beloved American Girls series. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com



Monday, June 9, 2014

Coffee with Eunice (Bible Mommies series)

Eunice: Passing Down a Godly Heritage

I'm interviewing my last Bible mommy today. Kinda sad. I've enjoyed meeting these godly and very real women face to face. Poking around in their stories has left me with lessons I can use with my own children and grandchildren. I hope that's true for you, too. Today, I have Eunice, the mother of Timothy, with me.

Eunice, perhaps more than any other Bible mommy you understand what it's like to raise a son without the influence of a godly father. What was that like?

It's true. Timothy's father was a heathen Greek, actually a Greek-speaking Jew. I was a Jewess by birth. I converted to Christ when the apostle Paul made his first missionary journey through Derbe and Lystra. From that point on, I had a passion to train up my son in the things of the Lord.  My husband however did not support me. He even opposed me when I allowed Paul to circumcise Timothy. Yet, the best I knew how I honored my husband for his authority in our family, tried to respect his leadership, and treated him with kindness.

That must've been difficult without the support of your husband.

Yes, it was. But God raised up Paul to take Timothy under his wing. In essence, he became like a father to my son. And then, there was my mother, Lois. Together, we taught Timothy from childhood to honor and study the holy Scriptures. That laid the foundation for his future ministry with Paul and as a pastor. 

Wow, two godly women, leaving a godly legacy. We certainly can't overestimate the influence of a godly mom and grandmother. You might say, the Church owes you both a debt of gratitude. You passed on a rich, faithful heritage to Timothy, and God used him to build and encourage the early Church. His influence has been felt ever since.  What lessons would you say you learned as a mom?

Trust God, even if your husband doesn't. Even if he opposes your faith. Even when he doesn't help out. Pray for him. Point out specific areas in his life that you do respect. This will go a long way in winning him over. Don't spend all your time at church. Be respectful of your husband's needs. Don't argue over silly things. Keep the peace as much as possible. Honor your husband's authority unless he asks you to do something contrary to God's Word. Only then are you to obey God rather than man. 

Make good use of the godly influences in your child's life--like a grandparent. So valuable. I can't emphasize that enough. And ask God to raise up a godly man in your church to take your child under his wing. Pray, and be on the lookout for a faithful influence in your child's life. Be diligent to train your child, prepare his heart for the work God has for him. Nurture him in the faith. Walk it out alongside him. Your example is more important than your words. Certainly, your child needs both, but make sure you live what you tell him. 

Thank you, Eunice. I can't think of a better lady to finish out our series. The role of godly moms and grandmothers is so vital in our culture, in any culture! Thank you for serving as a faithful example to us in how to train our children. 

For more of Eunice's story, read 2 Timothy 1:5; Acts 16:1, 3.
    

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coffee with Elizabeth (Bible Mommies series)

Elizabeth: Full of the Holy Spirit

Our next guest could've been jealous, yet she knew her role in God's story and was grateful for His plan. Elizabeth, in your old age, you carried the cousin of Jesus. When Mary came to visit and you heard her greeting, your baby leaped in your womb and you were filled with the Holy Spirit. You blessed Mary and her child. Surely, at some point, you must have felt at least a little jealous that she was chosen to carry the Savior and not you.

To be honest, it never crossed my mind. I was just so thankful to have a child and to raise him to serve the Lord. Each of us has a purpose, and we must fulfill what God has given us to do. That's all that matters. I felt so honored that the mother of my Lord should visit me. 

When your son was born, many assumed he'd be named after your husband, Zechariah.

Yes, but I spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John," for that is what the angel instructed my husband to name him.

You are a woman of great faith, Elizabeth. You believed the Lord's promise to Zechariah. And you praised Him for His mercy and favor. 

Indeed, I did. Such joy and delight to have a son! And God had clearly defined his purpose: To bring many of the Israelites back to the Lord their God. To go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." I was overwhelmed that I should mother such a son with a high calling like that. 

So true. Still, when he grew up and lived in the desert, ate locusts and honey, you must have wondered at times. Was this what he was called to do?

She laughs. Well, he did look rugged. But I had full confidence that he was preparing the way for the Savior, so I let go. 

Letting go . . . another common theme among our mothers. What lessons would you say you learned?

That each of us has a role to play in God's kingdom story. It's important to submit to that purpose and allow God to use us and our children.

For more of Elizabeth's story, read Luke, chapter one.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Coffee with Mary (Bible Mommies series)

Mary: Willing to Let Go

Unarguably, our next guest is the best know Bible mommy I've interviewed yet. Even she noted that generations after her would call her blessed. And indeed, she was, but that blessing didn't come without serious sacrifice.

Mary, you're a woman of great character, yet of humble beginning and means. But your humility, no doubt, is one attribute that God cherished in you. He favored you, so exalted you among women by commissioning you to bear His Son. You were an earthen vessel bearing His foremost treasure. How did you cope with this divine stewardship?

She smiles. One day at a time. Certainly, I didn't understand all that God was doing. I knew from day one that the baby I carried was the Son of the Holy One, that He was sent to save His people, yet I didn't fully comprehend all the ramifications. I didn't understand what that gift would cost me. Not really. 

The "not knowing" can sometimes be as difficult as the knowing. What was that like for you?

Another blessed gift. If I had known my son, God's Son, would have to die in order to save us . . . well, I don't know if I could've lived with that agony. God was gracious in revealing His plan one step at a time. My job was to surrender to God's plan for myself and for my child, though I only knew a piece of the story. 

I've often thought this about my own children. How wonderful of God to bring them into the world as babies so that we can grow with them. We surrender a little bit more of them with every passing year. Not only were you a woman of surrender, Mary, but you were also a woman of praise. In Luke 1:46-55, you sing a song to the Lord. You thanked Him for being your Savior. It intrigues me that perhaps you were the first to acknowledge Him as such, at least after Old Testament times. 

Yes, I had studied the Old Testament scriptures. I knew about God's mighty deeds, His mercy, the rulers He had brought low, and those He had lifted. I knew He'd helped Israel all the way back to Father Abraham. And knew of His promise to send a Savior.

You must have known, too, that your son could do wonderful things. I'm thinking of the time you told the servants at the wedding in Cana when the wine ran out to do whatever Jesus told them. 

Yes, I knew He was special. She chuckles. When He was 12, I found Him in the temple teaching the religious leaders. He told me He had to be about His Father's business. I have to admit, I was a bit angry He hadn't mentioned He was staying behind when we set out to go back home. But after that, He continued to submit to our authority. Yet, I always pondered such strange happenings. God had a very special plan for my boy. And my heart always did a little tug when I remembered He wasn't really mine, only entrusted to me to raise for a short time. 

Is it still painful for you to think of that awful time when you had to make a full surrender?

I'd been warned, when Jesus was only eight days old. In the temple when Joseph and I consecrated Him to the Lord. An old man named Simeon said a sword would pierce my heart. I shuddered at the thought; I didn't want to think about what he might mean. After all, I was a new mother with such a precious infant son. I only wanted to think that nothing could ever shake the happiness I felt whenever I looked into His round face or watched Him suck at my breast. Those days were such happy days. Yet, all during His growing years, we both experienced ridicule, since it was thought he was an illegitimate child. Such teasing and abuse. But all that only made Him stronger. For me, well, at times I was tempted to grow bitter, but in the long run, I believe God used the ridicule to grow me too. And then, of course, the cross. How can a mother possibly process that horror? Still, all had become clear for me by then. I knew Jesus was fulfilling the purpose God had sent Him to fulfill. I had to let Him go. So, I remained quiet. In great anguish, yes, but quietly so. And after all was said and done, I remained faithful to God. 

What lessons would you say you learned?

My child was not my own, only a gift to give back to the Lord and train for His divine purpose. And to trust God with my child, no matter what. That the difficult times do pass, and God has better things coming. My son died, yes, but He rose from the grave, never to die again! This story does have a happy ending. Though I had to wait for heaven to be with Him, now as I look back, it did not seem like such a long wait, but only a few days. And now, I enjoy His presence forever! I would say to your readers, hold on, you who believe in the Lord. He will not let you down. No matter what happens today, eternity is coming when you will be with Christ!

Thank you, Mary, for your insights. For more of Mary's story, read Luke, chapters one and two; John 2:1-5, 19:25-27; Acts 1:14