Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Books To Lose Sleep Over In 2016


Are you the sort of person who believes losing a little sleep for a great book is totally worth it? Besides the sleep deprivation, have you ever gone without basic necessities of food, water, and showers for a lengthy period of time? Do your friends and family laugh at you or think you’re slightly crazy? Oh, but the anticipation of seeing how a story will end is nothing but bliss.

Perhaps you’re someone who’s never read a book you’ve been willing to lose sleep over? Maybe you’re not much of a reader, but you’re willing to try something new in 2016. Whichever category you might fall in, I’m here to share a list of novels from my fellow writers that we consider worthy of lost sleep.

Don’t believe us? Give it a try! Here are 20 books on our list, so grab your coffee or tea, snacks, and a warm blanket before you nestle on the couch.

*WARNING* Uttering words like “I’ll stop at the next chapter” or “five more minutes” might increase your reading time by chapters or minutes.

Happy Reading!

Jennifer Slattery:

·         Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson
·         Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“These two novels are night and day from each other and yet both are wonderfully written. Five Brides is a fun, nostalgic historical about five roommates living in Chicago during the 1950's and their journey of self-discovery and independence. The Purple Hibiscus is a haunting tale of a young girl who endures unthinkable abuse as tension begins to mount in Nigeria right before the country's brutal civil war. Though an intense and at times disturbing novel, the author's prose is beautiful and the plot and characters authentic.”

Melanie Dickerson:

·         Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

“Since I remember being literally breathless as I read the last half of that book for the first time!”

·         A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley.

“It has some dark moments, and therefore I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 18, but I loved the main character, Margaret of Ashbury. She’s the ultimate Medieval heroine.”

·         Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell.

“Really, everything I’ve read by her has been amazing. She has a way of making her characters so real and heart-tugging. She’s phenomenal.”

Emilie Hendryx:

·         Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers
·         A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker
·        Embers by Ronie Kendig
·        The Judgement Stone by Robert Liparulo
·         Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Crystal L. Barnes:

·         The Princess by Lori Wick
·         Montana Marriages Series by Mary Connealy
·         Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake
·        Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson

Lena Dooley:

·         Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
·         Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

Both of these books are powerful and stay with you a long time. And both made an impact on my life.” 

Wow, what a great list! Thank you so much, ladies. I can already see myself losing even more sleep in this New Year! Here are several of my favorites!

Tanya Eavenson:

·         Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
·         The Princess by Lori Wick
·         Love Comes Home by Ann H. Gabhart
·         The Ballantyne Legacy series by Laura Frantz

How about you? Which novels have left you sleep deprived? Have you read any of the novels on our lists? If so, which ones?

These are the books worth losing sleep over in 2016!

Emilie Hendryx:
Crystal L. Barnes:
Lena Nelson Dooley:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Raising Risk-Takers

Ashley zip-lining in Northern California
If we want our kids to fly, we must encourage them to jump.

As our daughter enters her second semester of college, I'm beginning to see the fruit of almost two decades of parenting. Wisdom my husband and I had learned from couples with older children, from books, sermons. And somewhere along the way, I learned the value of raising a risk-taker.

Although initially, my daughter wasn't thrilled with this idea. At all. Because left on her own, she was fairly risk-adverse.

One spring, she decided she wanted to learn how to ride her bike so she could surprise her daddy on Father's Day. Every afternoon, I'd help her get all geared up--helmet, elbow pads, knee pads... That child was covered with padding from head to toe. Had she fallen, I'm pretty sure she would've bounced.

We had a routine; once she was sufficiently safety-wrapped, we'd head to the garage, take a few steps toward her bike, and then she'd stop. "Momma, pray with me."

So I would, and then we'd take a few more steps, this time making it all the way to her little pink bike with the sparkly streamers dangling from her handle bars. She'd look at her bike, long and hard.

"Momma. pray with me," she'd say again.

And I would, then she'd stare at her bike for a long moment before saying, "I changed my mind."

After which I, of course, did all I could to keep from laughing at my precious, frightened adorable child.

We continued this little routine for some time, until her tendency to "play it safe" began to trickle into other areas. Then it wasn't so cute anymore. It worried me, because though I loved her contemplative, careful side, I didn't want her to go through life searching for bubble wrap.

So, after a long discussion, my husband and I decided to force her to try new things.
Ashley rock climbing in Park City, UT

Like rock climbing, mountain biking... white water rafting.

And after some prodding--and at times, shoving--we came to find out, she loved it.

Now, watching her embrace all the change inherent to college life, and listening to her talk of all the study abroad programs she wants to go to, I'm glad we pushed. Because I think had we not, we would've been telling her, in essence, that the world was a dangerous place that she was ill-equipped to deal with it. But by (strongly) encouraging her to embrace risk, we let her know we believed in her and her ability to overcome.

Mamma's, this is a hard one, isn't it? We adore our children and want to keep them safe and make sure they avoid costly mistakes. But we must be careful we're not projecting our fears onto them, because it's a big, exciting world out there, and God has a journey mapped out just for them. Our role isn't to burry padding but to equip and encourage them to follow, wholeheartedly, after Christ, wherever He leads them.

Whether that's on the mission field.

Across the country.

To the career of their choosing.


What were your thoughts reading this post? For those of you who have kids, are you raising them to live the abundant, victorious life Christ offers or are you allowing your fears to hold them back? To those without kids--actually, to all of us--are we living our lives to the full, embracing risk as we follow Christ? What might you need to surrender or pursue in order to do that? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other! 

Before I go, fun news to share: My next novel, which reviewers are calling my best yet, is now available for pre-order! 

Sometimes it takes losing everything to grab hold of what really matters.

Women’s ministry leader and Seattle housewife, Alice Goddard, and her successful graphic-designer husband appear to have it all together. Until their credit and debit cards are denied, launching Alice into an investigation that only leads to the discovery of secrets. Meanwhile, her husband is trapped in a downward spiral of lies, shame, and self-destruction. Can they break free from their deception and turn to the only One who can save them? And will it be in time to save their marriage?

Breaking Free, part of NHP contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder that God can take any broken life and redeem it for His plan and purpose. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion, and humor that makes Jennifer's novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to break free and find God in the complexities of their own lives!

This book is a great resource for a book club, discussion group in women’s Bible studies, or as a ministry resource to spark conversation about practical ministry needs.

Get your copy HERE!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Legacy of Color

In Northern Wisconsin, where I grew up, small farms speckle the countryside. In the spring, Holsteins graze in green pastures, and fragrant wildflowers sprinkle color around old wooden fence posts. From the maples, oaks, and evergreens that line the seldom-traveled roads, song birds chirp sweet musical offerings. A closer look in the trees will reveal the source of their contentment.
Photo by Holly Michael my home in Kansas City, looking for nostalgia and warmth, I wrap myself in this:

My grandmother made the afghan for me when I was a child. The yarn in both the nest and the afghan came from the same place: The Yarn Lady's house.

The Yarn Lady, a widow with no children, lived a simple life. Her brother gave her yarn seconds from the knitting mill he managed, so she could sell them for a little bit of income. My grandmother often purchased yarn from The Yarn Lady's little resale shop, a shack beside her modest house.

A few years ago, my sisters and I, walking the country roads back home, were lured to The Yarn Lady's property by an amazing burst of color: thousands of peonies and irises she had once planted. Over the years, they'd spread all along the ditch in a colorful display.

Out of curiosity, we stepped through weeds to take a look around the abandoned property. We discovered tufts of yarn stuck to tall thistles and yarn lengths worming their way through cracks in the walls of the Yarn Lady's shack.

Amazed and intrigued, we peeked inside the building to discover mounds of yarn--skein after skein of vivid colors. Like lava from a volcano, colorful strands poured out from the broken windows.

Thanks to The Yarn Lady, even today, throughout this area in Northern Wisconsin, yarn nests can be spotted in the trees.

The Yarn Lady, a woman with few earthly possessions, has been gone for more than a quarter century. But she left behind priceless gifts of vibrant beauty--blooming peonies and irises along a country roadside and bird's nests woven in a brilliant rainbow of colors.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

Matthew 6:20-21 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Holy Spirit Courage

I walked past them many times before on the way to a field to talk with Jesus.

Teens waiting at the bus stop. Some chatting; others staring mindlessly into space. 

Another ordinary day.

I waved, uttered a “good morning,” but kept on walking, silently praying for these kids. For whatever they might encounter at school that day.

Little did I realize as the days slipped into months, the Holy Spirit was quietly doing what He does best—illumine and guide. 

On December 16, 2015, He did just that. 

As I walked around my quiet place, He gently spoke. “Eileen, talk to the kids. Tell them about Jesus.”

“But, Lord, they don’t want to hear from a little, ole Granny. Someone else, Lord.”

“I want you. Tell them.”

If I’ve learned anything in 60 years, I’ve learned it’s pointless to argue with the Holy Spirit. Eventually, He always wins out, because I can do no less than obey my Lord and Savior. He purchased my redemption and secured my eternal life. 

“Tell them.” 

“Okay, Lord, but how?” I whispered into the brisk wind as I strolled past bare trees. I hugged my arms around my chest. In spite of the cold, warmth filled my heart as I considered possible scenarios. 

Two days later, with Christmas bag full of candy and tracts, I stepped out of my house, took a deep breath, and headed down the street toward the bus stop. 

Courage, Eileen.

One girl stood on the corner as I approached and breathed a silent prayer for grace. 

“I pray for you as I pass every day.” I smiled, clutching my gift bag. “I wanted you to know that, and I wanted to give you a treat.” I held out a baggie, and she received the simple offering with a grin and a “thank you.” 

By now other kids were gathering—eight in all.

Ean in ninth grade.

Dillon in 11th who wanted to be a musician or maybe an English teacher. When he learned I was a writer, he told me how he liked to brainstorm stories on the bus every day. 

Their names ran together.

So did the blessings.

They were receptive. Eager. Thankful.

Such a small gift. 

I walked away rejoicing as the bus pulled up. 

“You made this easier than I anticipated, Lord.”

Further down the road, it occurred to me . . .

Daddy met Jesus on a street corner as a teen. Led to the Lord by his future brother-in-law.

I smiled, joy flooding my heart. 

Today was a touch, a beginning place.

The Spirit called. I accepted the invitation. Not without fear, but choosing courage.



Praying now about the next encounter with these kids. Would you join me?

Is there someone or several someones you’d like to share Jesus with in this New Year?

Ask the Lord for specific ways to approach the person, whether it’s a first encounter or a long-term witnessing relationship. Seek a quiet place for the Spirit to speak. Listen, then be open to what He tells you to do.

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10


Eileen Rife, author of December Sunrise, speaks to women’s groups, encouraging them to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story!