Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In the middle of everything that's happening in the world, I'm grateful to be able to work at home. If you're needing something to read, I'm super excited to announce that The Traitor's Pawn releases today!! So excited to share Jack and Aubrey's story with you!! 


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
“Harris (Deadly Intentions, 2019), writing in the thriller style of J.T. Ellison and Julie Garwood, presents a fast-paced adventure which balances intriguing clues, complex suspects, light romance, and messages of forgiveness to create an excellent, entertaining read.” ~Booklist


ABOUT THE TRAITOR'S PAWN:
When FBI agent Jack Shannon arrives in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is focused on one thing: find the man who has been selling encrypted government secrets to the Chinese through online birding chat rooms. But when a senator is shot during a hunting trip and the woman he was with is abducted, Jack agrees to join the search--especially when he discovers that the kidnapping victim is Aubrey Grayson, a woman he was once in love with.

As the search continues, it becomes clear the senator may not have been the intended victim--and Aubrey may be connected to the other case Jack is supposed to be working on. Can Jack untangle the knots before it's too late? And when he learns the truth, will it be too painful to get past?


Join the hunt for the truth--and a traitor--in this tension-laden story of secrets, betrayal, and second chances.


Grab your copy here today, or wherever books are sold!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Where are you God?: He is powerful, loving and faithful

From: September 4, 2010





If you're feeling tired or anxious today, read this reminder from the devotional my mom wrote a few years ago, and be blessed with the reminder of God's faithfulness!







Matthew 6: 25a, 33-34  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Fear of the unknown.

Concern for the fate of the children.

Hunger.

Exhaustion.

Do any of these sound familiar? If not, ask most any single parent about them. Does God care? These problems are common in today’s world wherever one lives. Does He care? Let’s look at the first chapters of the book of Exodus.

God’s people were unsure of what would happen to them next. They were exhausted from the work of slavery. Hungry? Oh, yes. Concern for their children? The Pharaoh had ordered their newborn boys killed. Skip a few chapters and see the rescue of their God. It was God who brought them out of Egypt and a life of slavery. It was God who drove back the waters of the Red Sea. It was God who fed them in the wilderness even after their unfaithfulness. It was God who protected them from their enemies. They could look back and see the faithfulness of a loving God.

Does He care?

Yes, He absolutely does. And it isn’t just the people way back then. He cares now too. How can I be so sure? Because I was afraid of the unknown. I was concerned for the fate of my children. I was exhausted. And I worried about if we would go hungry. I was a single parent struggling to keep life together. And the powerful, faithful, loving God of heaven and earth ALWAYS provided. Looking back I can see how everything we needed was given to us from His Hand at just the time we needed it. I never needed to have worried, because He was in charge.

Prayer:  “Our loving Father, our all powerful God, We bow humbly before You to thank You for Your Faithfulness in caring for us. Help us to not doubt or worry about our lives here on earth, but keep our eyes on You and heaven.”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Where are you God?: Encountering Him


From: July 4, 2010

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Ephesians 1:17


In I Kings 19, we read that Elijah believed he was the only man left who was following God. As a prophet of the Lord, he spent his time warning the Israelites to stop following false gods and to return to the one true God. He was a zealous man, heartbroken that the Israelites had broken down God’s altars, rejected His covenants, and even killed His prophets. And to top it off, his own life was in danger as the queen was planning to kill him.

Certain that he was soon to meet his death, Elijah went and spent the night in a cave. God though, told him to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, because He was going to pass by.

Three things happened next. A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart, shattering the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. Next, an earthquake shook the ground, causing the earth below Elijah’s feet to tremble. I’m sure that by this time, Elijah himself was trembling. But once again, the Lord was not in the shifting of the earth beneath his feet. Next came a raging fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

After the fire, though, came a gentle whisper. And in that quiet, gentle whisper was where Elijah found God.

How often, in the constant roar of life, do we stop and look for God, pausing to seek His face? Most of the time, life seems to be rushing past us like a fierce whirlwind or earthquake. Commitments keep us jumping, disaster spins round us, and the urgent takes over the important. But it’s often in the stillness of a morning sunrise, the quite touch of a friend, or in the pages of His Word where we encounter God face to face.

Just like with Elijah, the Lord knows what he needed, and he was strengthened by God’s presence. Jezebel still wanted to kill him, and his trial had not "gone away," but God gave him the strength to continue. What compassion God showed to Elijah. God was tender with him, and in Elijah’s distress He provided for His immediate needs by sending an angel who told him to eat and drink the food the Lord had provided because the journey was too much for him.

As in Elijah’s life, think about what compassion God shows to us each day. Just as the angle of the Lord comforted Elijah, He has given us so much; His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His Spirit, adoption as His children, and much more.

In closing, read James 5:11b and John 14:16 and thank God for the blessings he has given you today.

Be blessed!

Lisa Harris

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Where Are You God?: the Therapy of story

From: October 5, 2018

No matter who we are or where we come from, we all have at least one thing in common. At different points in our lives—maybe even right now for you—we experience loss. It might be the loss of a job, of a marriage, or of a dream. It might come as a phone call in the middle of the night, or the exhausting reality of watching a loved one slowly slip away. It has a way of making us vulnerable, and yet it’s also what makes us human, because no one is untouched by loss. 

And today, we all have something else in common as we face this virus.

While I love a happy ending in a story—and of course just as much in real life—our journey is not only full of different seasons, it’s also rarely void of pain. The first book I wrote was from a deep place of hurt while dealing with infertility. The characters I wrote about helped me deal with that pain and was a catalyst in helping me heal. As a reader, this can also happen when we pick up a book. Readers have told me how they’ve connected with a character because of similar circumstances they’ve faced, and in turn have been challenged spiritually. And it makes sense. When we connect with a character because of something he or she has gone through, the story impacts us and stays with us long after the last page is read. 

In A Secret to Die For, Grace Callahan is a psychologist. On a day to day basis, she deals with the pain and loss of her patients, but she also understands grief on a very personal level after the death of her little girl four years ago. Detective Nathanial Quinn has recently experienced trauma with the loss of his partner in an explosion and is dealing with PTSD. When Grace is thrown into a life and death situation with Nate, she finds herself able to relate to him on a deeper level because their shared understanding of loss.

While loss and trials are never easy, God has reminded me over and over throughout the years that he never promised us a life free from pain. In fact, the opposite is true. John 16: 33 tells us that difficulties will come. But there’s another promise he’s given us as well that we can hold onto when hard times hit. Isaiah 43: 2 says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” 

Did you hear that? We are not alone. He will walk through the pain with us.

He also asks us to put our trust in him—not in our circumstances. Is that always easy? Definitely not. But though him we can find hope no matter what is happening around us. In the story, Grace discovers this same profound truth in her own life.
  
Somehow, though, in the middle of feeling as if no one understood, she’d begun to discover there was One who did understand this journey of grief. Sometimes she’d hear God’s quiet voice in the wind. Feel his presence in the words of a song. She realized that he could feel her pain and that he understood the depth of her loss. Because he’d watched his own Son die as well.

For Grace and Nate, their losses play a large role in bringing them to a place where they discover unexpected love with each other, and together they are able to help each other find peace through Him. It’s not a peace that makes any earthly sense. Instead, it’s a peace that “exceeds anything we can understand.” Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

May you find peace in Him today!


Lisa Harris

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Where are you God?: Writing as therapy

From: March 7, 2018

Writing has always been like therapy for me. I wrote my first book over two decades ago after suffering from a miscarriage. I felt shattered and lost and completely alone. I ended up writing the fictional novel of a couple and their struggle through infertility as well as a non-fiction study guide stemming from my own search for God in the midst of the pain.

A lot of good came out of that writing therapy. 

Like any family, we’ve had plenty of ups and downs over the years. We’re now coming up on the two year anniversary of one of our worst when our family was attacked by armed intruders in our home. Believe it or not, I was actually in the middle of writing a hostage scene for my heroine when the robbers broke in. 

Here’s what I wrote about that experience in the Dear Reader letter in the back of the book just a few weeks after the attack. (The letter was later condensed.)

While I was in the process of finishing Desert Secrets, everything changed. Three armed men walked into our house, tied up myself, my husband and my daughter—gave me two black eyes and a mild concussion in the process—and robbed us, including the wedding ring off my finger. 

The experience changed how I felt about a lot of things, including writing suspense. Before I could continue, I had to rethink why I write what I write. I was eventually able to move forward and pour my emotions from the attack into this story, which ended up bringing me healing.  I knew that I wanted my readers to never forget that the God who created the universe loves us and wants to be our strength no matter what is happening in the world around us. Jesus came to heal the empty and broken hearted, and those searching for freedom and hope. Psalm 91 says that He is our refuge and fortress. That no matter what we are going through, He will cover us with his feathers and it is under His wings we will find refuge.

I truly believed what I wrote.  But still, after the attack, I found myself seeking answers about God, and pain. Sin and the fallen world we live in. In the next book I wrote, Vanishing Point, I tackled the question that we’ve probably all asked at one time. Where were you, God? I worked through this question in my own life as I was writing conversations between my characters who were responding to their own string of tragedies they were dealing with.

Here’s part of a conversation between. Detective Garrett Addison and Special Agent Jordan Lambert. 

“We ask that question—where were you, God?—as if we’re surprised when evil surfaces. We ask it because we want to know why he didn’t show up and stop what happened. We wonder what’s wrong with our world when we watch the news and hear all the tragedies happening around us. We forget that we live in a fallen world. We forget that God gives us the freedom to make choices. We wouldn’t like it if he forced us to follow him. But that means we have to suffer the consequences of our bad choices as well as enjoy the consequences of our good ones. God doesn’t give us free will, then stand over us and fix everything. Does that make sense?”

“It does,” Garret said. “Think of all the times in the Bible when people cry out to God for something. They beg him to rescue them from their enemies or give them something they want. Sometimes God intervenes and steps in dramatically, but it seems like more often than not, he doesn’t.”

“Exactly. And what I’m realizing is that when he doesn’t intervene, it doesn’t mean he isn’t there. I think it means just the opposite. He decided not to just sweep down and fix our problems every time something goes wrong. Instead he chose to redeem us eternally by sending his Son.”

“Immanuel,” Garrett said, feeling a chill go through him. “God with us.”

“Yes. I have to believe that he’s here with us. That he understands what we’re going through and feels our pain far more than we do ourselves.”

“It’s hard for us to understand why a loving God would allow such horror to exist among his creation,” Garrett said. “It doesn’t make sense to us. But God’s intent was never a fallen world. That was man’s choice.”

“But even though he never promised us we wouldn’t feel pain, he did promise that we would never be alone.”

Tragedies like the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Sandy Hook (and the Corona virus) flipped through Garrett’s mind. The reality of a fallen world was clear. And yet like Jordan said, wasn’t God’s plan really a plan of redemption? Yes, he believed that God was capable of fixing our problems, but he chose instead to rescue and redeem humankind permanently.

“When we suffer a loss,” he said, trying to put his thoughts into words, “some people say that everything happens for a reason. But I don’t think there’s always necessarily a particular ‘reason’ for something to happen. Maybe the truth is that things happen because we live in a world where pain, death, and loss are all naturally a part of life. No one is immune.”

Jordan nodded. “But instead of believing that hardships are the norm, we say that we deserve being showered with God’s blessings. And yet Jesus told us that in this world we’d have many troubles. Sometimes we do experience God’s blessings, but he never promised us that everything would be perfect in this world.”

“Only in the redeemed world to come,” Garrett agreed.

“What he does promise is to walk with us through the bad times. As crazy as it seems, somehow, when bad things happen, we start to see God’s grace. We start to dig deeper. Sometimes it takes trauma to get someone searching for God.”   ~From Vanishing Point

Once again, my writing was therapeutic for me and something I hoped as I wrote it would minister to those who read the book. But there has still been something that has always bothered me. My family and I walked away from the attack on our family. We saw miracles that night, so many we made a list. We saw how things could have turned out so much worse. To this day anxiety that sometimes still lingers, but my family was okay. We were alive. And I was grateful. 

There was a moment that night, though, when I didn’t know how things were going to end. When I ran around locking up the house after the robbers fled and didn’t know where my husband was. I remember as clearly as it was yesterday, sitting down in the hallway with my daughter, believing I was facing my new reality. Life without my husband. I was now a widow. They'd made threats and now they’d killed him. And at that moment, I truly believed he was gone.

Not long after that, he arrived back with the police. Little did I know that his leaving to get help was what saved us and scared them off. But what if God hadn’t saved him that day? Would I still be able to praise him? Would I still trust?

A scene from Daniel keeps repeating in my mind.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 NLT 

Even if He doesn’t we will still serve You.

I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m writing a book right now (Deadly Intentions). It’s centered around a man who loses his wife during a home invasion. I know. What was I thinking? But the spiritual thread of the story is one that dives into that very question. And it’s one I wanted—needed—to explore. What if God doesn’t say yes? What if He doesn’t heal my loved one? What if He doesn’t move mountains or save me from the fiery furnace? 

Jesus said very clearly that we would have trouble in this world. Later Peter said: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”  I Peter 4:12-13

What if my husband had been killed that night of the attack? What would my response to that have been? Would I have blamed God? Left the mission field? Turned bitter? Honestly, I don’t know. I hope I wouldn’t have. I hope that I would have seen God even in the midst of my pain.

Here is what I do know. 

He has promised to be our strength when we are weak, to give us hope when we are hopeless, and to love us when we feel unlovable. It’s never relying on our own strength to get us through difficult times, but leaning on the mighty arm of God and being continuously filled with His Spirit. Isaiah 41:10 says not to fear, because “I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

So what is my response today? Like the song below, whether I'm facing tragedy like a world-wide pandemic, or just a bad day, may my life be filled with His strength and mercy.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

Where are you God?: Life in Crisis

From October 30, 2009

The suspense series I’m working on right now is about ordinary people faced with extraordinary situations. They’re not secret agents or spies sent to save the world, but instead people, like you and me, who’s lives are changed through both the challenges they face and their reliance on God.

But as we all know, a crisis isn’t limited to the pages of a fictional story. And in real life, the ending is rarely tied up neatly. Many of us have walked through a situation where the pain and heartache seemed out of control and there was nowhere to run.

In the past few weeks that I’ve been back in the States, I’ve had opportunities to meet with a number of people whose lives are in crises. As I’ve cried with them and prayed with them, one verse has really stuck with me. Paul says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

We live in a fallen world. Life is hard. There is sickness, financial struggles, loneliness, and loss and while it’s impossible to always understand “why” there is one thing that we can cling to. Isaiah 41:10 tells us not to fear, because “I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

God never said that all difficult situations will be taken away. In fact I Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised at the painful trials we are suffering. But through Christ and the workings of His Spirit, the void can be filled. James tells us that we are blessed when we persevere under trial, because we will "receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12) With God as our strength and heaven as our goal, the journey is worth it.

Keep your eyes focused on Him today!

Lisa Harris

Friday, March 20, 2020

Where are you God?: Tragedy Surrounding Us

From March19, 2019

It seems like the news cycle is constantly reporting yet another tragedy. And recently, several have hit home. Last week we’d just gotten home from church, when one of the brothers told me that a flight from Ethiopia to Nairobi—a route we often take—had crashed. There were no survivors. Then this last weekend, a cyclone hit north of us. While we experienced the brutal force of a cyclone two years ago where we live, this time it hit a highly populated city and the death toll continues to rise. 

These are just two of many tragedies that have happened recently.

My daughter recently wrote something about suffering and God’s redemption recently that resonated with me. I hope it encourages you today to not only strengthen your trust in Him, but also as a reminder for us to make a difference in the lives of those struggling around us today.
                                                                        
***

The other day, my mom forwarded me daily devotional by an author named Laura Story. A third of the way down the page were two sentences she highlighted in bold. It read, “God doesn’t promise our stories will make sense in and of themselves. But He does promise they will find their greater purpose in light of His greater story of redemption.”

Reading this reminded me of Job. Throughout the book of Job, we see him wanting an audience with God. He wanted God to directly answer his questions to why he was suffering. But instead of answering Job’s question, God talked about all of His wonderful and powerful acts, displayed through everything He has made. Then God reminded Job that no human has the power to do match that. And Job remained in the dark regarding why he was suffering, and why God allowed it. But we soon see that God wanted Job to recognize his inability to always understand—his human limits—because we are finite beings. In the end, it says that God restored what was lost and gave back to him twice than what he had before. (Job 42:10).

The fact that God has the power to not only restore what Job lost, but replenish him with even more than he asked for is incredible. God demonstrates his goodness, his power, love, and his faithfulness to those who trust and fear Him. 

The story of Job gives me hope. Unlike Job (Job 1), I am not a “blameless and upright.” I am a sinner in need of repentance, mercy, and undeserved grace, because I have messed up. But still the story of Job gives me hope in times where I don’t understand why God is allowing my suffering. I have asked the Lord to make me a vessel for His glory and His kingdom come, but when His glory is being played out, sometimes there are things in my life that hinder this. Things he needs to take away. But we often just see and feel the effects of the subtraction. We feel the pain just as Job felt the suffering when he lost everything. Yet he still was somehow able to say “may the name of the Lord be praised.”

What gets me is that in Job, God gave back to Job for fearing Him, trusting him, and being faithful in spite of the horrible pain that took root in Job’s life. I feel often we get inpatient and just feel the pain and suffering and think that it is all in vain. But I know that my pain is not in vain. 

I don’t understand completely why I have had to experience brokenness, pain, hurt, and loss, but I know that it is not in vain. And I believe what it says in Romans 8 when Paul writes, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose.” God gives, but He may also take away. And the hardest part of that process is trusting that our pain we feel is not in vain.

It takes faith and strength to say, “you know what God, this hurts and I just want to give up, but I know my pain is not in vain and that you are using it. Your ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and you are the ultimate source of wisdom because I can’t and don’t understand what is going on. 

Just like Job and his friends didn’t and could not understand and find the answer to why God allowed suffering in Job’s life. What I do know that He gives peace through the pain, not only from personal experience, but through numerous mentions throughout scripture that promise peace.

If you read the rest of Isaiah 55:8-, it says: 

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace”

The Lord takes away, yes, but he also gives. Whatever reason we are suffering, we must do our best to keep a biblical perspective on suffering. We must trust Him because He has promised that through trials, He will not forsake us (Psalms 9:10).

Let us be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).