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Friday, December 29, 2006

The rains have come!



Rainy season is a mixed blessing in the midst of a hot summer. A storm hit yesterday and in the space of an hour dropped the outside temperature from the mid 80’s to about 69 degrees. It was wonderful. Of course once it passed and the sun came back out the temperature quickly began to rise again.

There are challenges as well. The power was off yesterday, and then there are the ever present leaks in our roof that require a run around the house with bowls and towels every time it rains. This morning the floor in our living room was soaked, but the air is fresh even if it is a bit humid. I love sitting outside and watching the valley spread out below us while the birds chatter in the trees.

The heavens do declare the glory of God!

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, December 25, 2006

Family Photo


It seems to be a rare thing when we actually have a photo taken of the five of us. So here is the very latest (taken Christmas Day).

We just finished enjoy a wonderful dinner with Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and are looking forward to some the apple pie later.

Merry Christmas, from our side of the world to yours!

Lisa and family

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

It’s hard to believe that we are about to leave behind another year. 2006 has been full of challenges and blessings for our family, and through it all God has shown his faithfulness.

We’ve traveled from Zambia, to Botswana, to the Indian Ocean. We’ve cried through an unexpected visit to ICU, homesickness, and the loss of loved ones back in America. There’s been the blessing of signing five book contracts, the unexpected gift of an airline ticket home to see family, and trepidation of putting our house in Texas on the market.

We’ve watched expressions of awe as men and women heard the story of creation for the first time, rejoiced in their decisions to accept Christ, and praised Him at their baptisms.

We prayed for the life of a co-worker’s child and asked God why he said no, ministered through prayer and medical aid to those in need, and continued our discipleship training.

We helped our children work to fit into a new community, prayed for more co-workers, and strove to wait on His timing.

So many of you have prayed for us, supported us financially, and encouraged us. For this I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sharing with us in our ministry.

Right now, as I look out over our back yard where the breeze is playing with the leaves of the palm trees and I hear the chatter of the birds, I know that I’m where God would have me. It’s not always easy, but He is faithful, and for that I am blessed.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider this. . .so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

To each of you reading my blog, may you fix your eyes on Him, may God bless you richly, and may you have a very Merry Christmas!

Lisa

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I’ve been attempting to post some photos from Mozambique for the past three days, but our Internet has been too slow. It’s working better today, so here’s a slide show of some of the scenery. I’ll plan to post some more in a day or two.

Driving down pot-hole filled roads, you pass sellers hawking pots, prawns, and fresh produce. Empty cement houses are everywhere, even through the thirty-year war ended almost fifteen years ago. Everything is rundown from the thatched roof compounds to the sky high apartment buildings in the rambling cities.

The people are friendly, moving slowly in the blistering heat as they gather water from wells, sell shoes and pineapples in the market, or pile coconuts in waiting trucks. Palm trees fill the horizon, stopping only at the deep blue ocean that’s filled with a fisherman’s livelihood.

Please pray for the people of Mozambique as we strive to be a light for Christ to them.

Lisa



Go to ImageShack® to Create your own Slideshow

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Home again!



After about sixteen hours of travel, we’re home!

We had planned to stay in Maputo today for a wedding, but there was “no room in the inn.” So instead, our long day included stopping in two towns on the way home to visit with people, including the family of the bride where we were able to greet them and leave a gift. We felt that this was important as we strive to build relationships.

The only really exciting thing that happened before we left was related, once again, to the ever present heat. . .and bathrooms. I seem to have this thing with bathrooms, because I managed to lock myself into the bathroom of the place where we stayed. You have to understand that this is not the first time I have done this since we’ve lived in Africa, but the third! (And never my fault, of course!)

I was giving Jayden a bath and as we finished up, the door wouldn’t open. Scott was gone to get a part to fix the car before we left, so I hollered for Gabriel. After thirty minutes, sweat was pouring down my face in the unbelievable heat. (yes, later Scott asked me why I didn’t simply rinse off in the shower, but at the time I was too focused on getting out and forgot that I had a cold water source!)

Instead, I worked to find a way out and calm down Jayden who was convinced we were going to be locked in the small room forever. Every few minutes I would press my face up to the key hole toward the bedroom, where I’d been packing with the air-con on because of the heat, so I could feel the wisps of cold air against me. Thirty minutes later, I managed to unscrew the door handle, but it turned out to be a process that did nothing to further our escape. Next I worked on the window, a small hole about two or three feet above the toilet. Scott got back about the time I had unscrewed the handle and was hoisting Jayden through the narrow opening where Gabriel could grab him.

Even with Scott home, though, we were still unable to get the door open. I was going to have to somehow maneuver myself through the window and pray that I would fit. The kids offered to take pictures at this point, which I’m sure managed to propel me through the hole before they arrived back with the camera. After what must have been at least an hour from the time I first tried the locked door, I emerged outside the house.

Overall, our time in Mozambique was beneficial. Beside the much needed family time, Scott was able to take care of some needed work with the government and practiced a lot on his Portuguese. We also were able to develop some relationships. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet with Edwardo as planned, but we continue to pray that God will lead us to the right people.

Next year, we have a Portuguese couple coming who will be training under us and working for several months in the country. We also are making plans for an extended medical clinic next year with several Portuguese speaking people as well. God is good and we are excited to see where He leads us.

I’ve posted some photos below and will post some more next week as well.

Blessings,

Lisa

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mozambique Update

I tried to update my blog a few days ago, but after an hour and a half of frustration, I gave up. We found another internet cafe and I'm having much better luck logging on.

Sunday, December 10:

Imagine it’s the middle of summer in Death Valley. Now imagine you have to bake a dozen pies in the heat with no air-conditioning or cooling breeze. This would be but a fraction of how hot it’s been here in Mozambique.

We arrived last Wednesday night after fourteen hours of bad roads and one very long boarder crossing. I’d been told to bring most of our food as availability was limited. I’d also been told to bring receipts for what we brought into the country. No problem. It wasn’t as if the customs officials were going to cross check my receipts with my boxes of food.

Or so I thought.

Our first hint that there was a problem came when the man informed us that we were only allowed to bring in a total of $50 a person. My receipts were too high. So we quickly told the man that some of the items on the list we had left in South Africa. This was true, but he wanted to know which items.

So Scott and I began the tedious process of crossing off items we hadn’t brought with us. There were only a couple other people crossing the newly erected thatched boarder crossing, giving the customs people plenty of time to deal with us in their typical laidback manner.

In the end, they charged us 46% of the excess we brought in, which thankfully, was only a little over ten dollars. Finally, we were free to go. Somewhere along the pothole-filled road we managed to break one of our shocks, so about nine o’clock that Wednesday night, we limped into Maxixe (Ma-sheesh) thanking God that we’d made it.

We had picked up a fellow Christian along the way who planned to help translate for us for a few days. On Thursday we visited the Health department to make an appointment to meet with someone the next day who could help work on arrangements for the medical clinic we want to hold here next summer. We also visited the market for fresh vegetables, flip flops for Jayden who somehow managed to forget to bring shoes, and a toothbrush for Gabriel. Dozen’s of women formed an intricate maze inside the market with their wooden tables piled high with a colorful arrangement of produce. Every woman sells about the same thing. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage, and spices. Staples to the African diet. I passed on the fish, where plump Mamas sat fanning at flies determined to land on their wares.

With our purchases in hand, Scott treated us all to a custard-filled pasty from the bakery, one of the best things you can find here. Everyday, we buy fresh bread to go with our meals of rice and sauce. Even the kids are loving the food. Because Antonio’s staying with us, I’ve been fixing curry dishes and cabbage sauces in my hot kitchen with nothing more than a tiny stove and a freezer. We keep unplugging the freezer so it will work more like a refrigerator, though it still froze my leftover salad. The heat makes it necessary for everything to be bought daily. Tomatoes will ruin in a day, along with the other items. It’s a way of life here. Buying and selling enough for one day, makes the market the heart of activity.

Friday was another day of work, as Scott met with the Heath department who is excited about our plans to help with a medical clinic in several of the surrounding villages. He also was blessed to find a recommended mechanic who fixed our shocks for under $10! Praise God for little miracles.

On Sunday, the heat seemed to intensify as we held our first house church. We studied Queen Esther and talked about how God could use us for His glory if we let Him. The family who was supposed to join us didn’t show up, but another man joined our small group. We prayed that this would be the beginning of hundreds who put on Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Last night a storm passed through, bringing cooler weather. A blessing considering our electricity ran out in the middle of the night. All five of us cram into the one air-conditioned bedroom at night, the only relief from the heat. Electricity, though, is paid up front and added in a meter box on the front porch. Our $6 of electricity we had been using all week ran out in the middle of the night. Once again, we were thankful for the rain that made sleeping bearable.

Prayers:

1.) Scott plans to meet with Edwardo this week for discipleship. Please pray that that time will go well.

2.) Please pray for Gabriel as well who has once again had an allergic reaction to the malaria medicine. (As of today, Thursday, he's doing much better!) This is despite the fact that we bought him a brand new drug that is not suppose to be related to the previous one that had him sick in bed for a month two years ago. We stopped giving it to him immediately, but his face is swollen and his skin is very itchy. Today he is up and playing which is a good sign. Once we get back home, we have to find out what the common denominator is that is making him so sick.

I’ll post some photos once we arrive home next week.

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, December 04, 2006

Prayers


Today we decorated the Christmas tree in the stifling hot weather. The kids didn't seem to mind as long as there was time to jump into the pool for a little while. The water is out again, this time completely for at least twenty-four hours. We had company last night for dinner and my friend was gracious enough to help me quickly wash the dishes before the water completely ran out. Life is never dull in Africa, she told me, a fact we've become well aware of.

We leave on Wednesday for Mozambique for two weeks of work and a bit of fun at the sea. Scott has three goals for the trip: To meet with the new Christians most evenings, meet with the Health Department, and work on his Portuguese. We would really appreciate your prayers while we are gone. I will try to post as often as I can, but we will have very limited access to the internet through an internet café.

Prayer requests:

1. A safe trip to Mozambique which will be about twelve hours across rough roads.
2. That we will all return home malaria free. We are taking every precaution, but the risk is still there.
3. That Scott will have ample time to meet with and disciple the new Christians
4. That we will receive the permission we need from the Health Department to run another medical clinic next year.
5. That our house in the states will sell. I calculated that we have had our Dallas home on that market over two years off and on during the past six years, and we have yet to receive a decent offer. (In fact, only one offer at all!) We also need wisdom to know when it’s time to go ahead and rent it if it doesn’t sell.
6. That I can get my deadlines complete while enjoying time with my family.

Blessings to each of you! Enjoy the cold weather.

Lisa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama: Heart to Heart Interview part 2

First off, congratulations to Beth and Ross for winning copies of my books, Adam's Bride and Sweet Home Alabama! I'll be having another contest soon, so stop by often.

Now to my chat with Pamela Kaye Tracy, who wrote Ready or Not the last story in the collection.





LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? How many books have you sold since then?

PAMELA KAYE: Are you kidding? I jumped up and down. Now, picture this. I, innocently go to get my mail. In amidst the bills is an envelope from Barbour Publishing. Envelopes mean: Dear Author, we’re sorry….. So, with a sigh, I open the envelope, right there where the mass mailboxes are, and inside is a letter telling me that with a few changes, they’ll buy my book. Yup, I jumped up and down, all alone, while cars drove by. I’m sure drivers thought I was killing a bug or something.

That was in 1998 and that first sale was a Barbour Heartsong. Since them, I’ve also sold Barbour eight novellas and two prayer books. I’ve also sold a romantic comedy to Kensington, and in 2007 I have two Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense books scheduled. Yabba Dabba! I’ve jumped on a lot of bugs since that first sale.

LISA: Tell us about your story in Sweet Home Alabama.

PAMELA KAYE: “Ready or Not” has its roots from my days as an elementary school teacher at a small private Christian school. The people I worked with at that school became family. They led me to a deeper faith and a better sense of self worth, which is what Callie, the heroine of “Ready or Not” so needs. Callie built her dreams on sand. Home, family, God, those are rocks. It’s about Callie’s journey to appreciate the before mentioned, and her journey of motherhood. It’s also about Darryl, the hero of “Ready or Not,” finding the helpmate he needs.

LISA: Can you give us an insight into writing a novella collection with three other authors?

PAMELA KAYE: After eight novellas, I hope I have a ‘grain’ of insight. First, let the leader lead, and thank the Lord when the leader isn’t a boss but a team player (Waving at Pamela Griffin - the other Pamela.) Next, don’t wait until the last minute to begin (frowning at how often I don’t take my own advice). Also, let the others read your work and make suggestions, especially when it comes to how you characterize their characters if they appear in your novella. Next, be flexible. Usually compromise makes the story better. LOL, near the end, put the novella aside for a month, read the other three novellas, and then rewrite your novella one more time (this seldom happens because you’ll never have the month you need, or like me, you’ll have a novella, a book, and galleys due in a week span (and a few months ago you agreed to judge a contest that week because it was so far in the future. Oh, and don’t forget your computer will crash that week). Finally, after you hit the send button and the novella goes off to publisher land, say a prayer of thanks to God because you are so blessed. What a dream come true… holding a book, your book, in your hands.

LISA: I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character from your book who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

PAMELA KAYE: I think I put a piece of me in just about every writing. My first book It Only Takes a Spark was somewhat about the lost me. The novella “Letters to Timothy” was about the teacher in me who agonized about lost students. I’ve turned up in books as a daughter dealing with a stepmother, as a waitress dealing with diners, as a older single woman maneuvering through the dating world (scary), etc. The books that don’t seem to have a piece of me are my suspenses. They take the longest to write and maybe I do learn the most from them. I learn how God might help people in true peril. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in true peril. And, for some reason, when I pick the scripture that goes with the suspense, I feel such ownership of that scripture’s message.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

PAMELA KAYE: Discipline is number one. And, from watching and learning from others, I’ve learned the best authors are the ones who know when and how to delete.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

PAMELA KAYE: Short term: Finish the Love Inspired Suspense due Feb. 1st. Long term: My dream is write three books a year for Love Inspired.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

PAMELA KAYE: Sure, get involved. I only know a handful of people who managed to get published ‘alone’. Most did what I did. I took creative writing classes: made friends, joined a critique group. I got involved on the AOL romance writing boards. I joined RWA (acfw wasn’t around back then). I attended every workshop I heard about, I went to conferences, and I made friends who had the same goals I did. Plus, I read, read, read, read… Did I mention I read a lot?

Good luck all! Dreams do come true.

Thanks for the great interviews, ladies!

Blessings all,

Lisa

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama: A Heart to Heart Interview


Today is the official release of my latest book, Sweet Home Alabama! To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to chat with my co-authors who were a part of the novella collection with me. Here's my interview with Paige Winship Dooly. Tomorrow I'll announce the winners of my books and post my chat with Pamela Kaye!





Paige Winship Dooly
http://paigewinshipdooly.com


LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? How many books have you sold since then?

PAIGE: I’d had this niggling thought that day that I might hear something, but the mailbox only had junk mail and something that was supposed to go in someone else’s mailbox. I was on my way to visit a friend, so dropped off the mail that was at the wrong house as I went. On my way home, I thought that maybe if I had the wrong mail, someone else had some of our mail, too, and maybe I WOULD hear if I checked again. Not really expecting to have more mail in the box, I drove up, opened it, and there was a large yellow envelope. My heart jumped. It was from the publisher. I figured it was a rejection since it was large, but I opened it and they wanted to buy my book exactly as it was! I was SO excited. I drove up honking my horn and all the kids and my husband ran out. The funniest thing was, on my way up to tell them what I was so excited about, we found a turtle egg nest beside our steps and got side-tracked by the coolness of that. We almost forgot about my sale until someone asked what I’d had to tell them a bit later.

Since then, I’ve sold four novellas and another Heartsong Presents with a tentative release date of December 2007.

LISA: Tell us about your story in Sweet Home Alabama.

PAIGE: “Head over Heels” is the story of Nicole, a young widow, and her teenage daughter, Shannon, who come back to their family hometown where Nicole runs into her old flame, Jason. She’s impetuous and peppy, and had run off to chase her dreams, where he’s hardened and methodical, having stayed put to control his. She goes to work for him at his diner and Inn, and manages to keep his life in constant turmoil. Both have to learn to focus on God before expecting the pieces of their lives to fall into place. And through the journey, they find drawing closer to God draws them closer to each other and balances their differences in a wonderful way.

LISA: Can you give us an insight into writing a novella collection with three other authors?

PAIGE: It’s a great experience, yet very challenging. Sweet Home Alabama has an interwoven storyline with overlapping characters, so any change that one author would make, would affect the other author’s stories all down the line. We had to be sure each ripple was addressed so that things would flow smoothly in each following story. You have to be willing to tweak things continuously, which is harder than writing a freestanding story on your own where you only have your own thoughts to put into your work. Even the planning phase is very time consuming when you’re combining four authors’ creative suggestions and input. But it’s a growth experience and I’ve learned a lot by working this way with my various co-authors. I think the end product is well worth it!

LISA: So do I! I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character from your book who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

PAIGE: I definitely relate to all my characters, and find that as I analyze them to see how they’d react in a certain situation; I’m analyzing myself at the same time. Nicole has a habit of jumping first and thinking later, which I catch myself doing, too. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and to seek God first when dealing with all parts of life. But I’m also like Jason, a planner who likes things to stay constant and without change. So I have to learn as he did to roll with the changes and savor them as blessings as they come along. Shannon, who at one point spouts her mother’s advice back at Nicole, reflects my children, who never seem to hear what I say when my wise words are relevant to them, but can sure quote things back on the flip side! And, of course, even my husband has to get in there and tell everyone that the romance scenes and Alpha heroes are purely modeled after him. So apparently my whole family feels they relate to the characters in some way.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

PAIGE: Patience! Or, then again, maybe I haven’t exactly mastered it and am still working on that virtue. The entire publishing process is so out of our control, which parallels the reality of life, right? We think we’re in control, but we aren’t. And I want to be in control and to know what’s going to happen when, but life and plans never happens the way I expect or want them to, which makes me more impatient. It’s nutty! All that said I know God is ultimately in control and I like it that way. But my human nature is to plan and control…Okay, so maybe I’ve learned through my writing journey that change is good. Whether the changes are edits, or a different publishing house than planned for a certain project, or whatever comes my way, I need to be open to change. God is in control, not me, and I need to sit back and enjoy the ride. The writing journey is an ongoing process. I can’t imagine ever reaching a final destination and knowing the journey is complete. There’s always more adventure, just around the next corner…if you just have enough patience to sit still and wait for it.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams
you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

PAIGE: I’m working on several projects right now, and trying to get a feel for which one is going to take my attention and run with it. Our life can get so crazy with six kids, home-schooling, and both of us working from home, that I like to write completes as much as possible before sending them out. As I mentioned above, my plans never go as expected, as I’m sure everyone can relate to. I had the summer slated to work on a mystery, but I sold the Heartsong Presents so wrote that story instead. Not a bad change at all, but I had to redirect my focus. I have several proposals out right now, and have decided to work on some completes while I wait.

As to writing dreams, I mostly want to make people smile, and to take them away into another world for a small part of their day. I don’t have any grand plans. If God wants to use me someday to write a great novel, that would be fantastic. But I’m happy to know I’ve made people think through the words of a story and that they might realize they can chase a dream and make it happen if they try. Or that times might be tough at a specific moment of a reader’s life, but better things are just around the corner.

LISA: Because I know where are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

PAIGE: Put words down in print! You can study forever, but if you never get the story down, you’ll never be published. Continuously study the craft and never stop learning, but only take the parts relevant to you to heart. Don’t try to change your natural God-given style because someone tells you to do something that isn’t in your voice. In the same way, be open to critiques, and if several people are telling you the same things, give their comments some serious thought. When you get ready to send a proposal out, know the market and know which publisher will most likely appreciate your style. It’s a tough business, but well worth it when you get that hard copy book in hand!

Blessings!

Lisa

Thursday, November 30, 2006

He's home!

I left Tuesday for Joburg with no internet connection (it's been down lately more than it's been up, and even today it's sooooo slow) Arrived back home to no water, but. . .Scott is home!

I want to thank everyone Stateside who helped him during his trip-- through a place to sleep, meals, borrowed cars, financial support, and encouragement.

His trip was a blessing in a number of ways, so we can't say enough to those who blessed him along the way.

Thank you!

We plan to leave on Monday (as a family!) for Mozambique for two weeks of ministry and a bit of the sea. I'll plan to post a few pictures before we go, but will have limited access to the internet while we are gone. Will try to update as often as possible, but please do pray for us as this will be a remote area filled with its own unique challenges and joys.

Blessings,

Lisa

Friday, November 24, 2006

SOLD! An interview with Beth Goddard


I can’t tell you how excited it is for me to chat a bit with my long time friend, Beth Goddard. Beth and I began critiquing each others manuscripts. . .wow. . .I’m not even sure how many years ago. At least five or six. Today, I get to announce Beth’s first sale to Heartsong Presents! Beth happens to be a huge history buff, and spins a fantastic medieval tale as well, but her first sale happens to be a contemporary and will be released December of next year. What is really cool about this is the fact that her story, A Season for Love, is a part of a three book contemporary series set in Massachusetts. Lena Dooley and I will be writing the first two books in the series that combines romance and mystery.

Okay, enough from me. Let’s chat with Beth.

LISA: What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell me about. . .THE CALL

BETH: Well, as you know, with Heartsong, “the call” is actually an email. I’ve received so many rejections that when I first saw the email, I figured it was yet another rejection. I opened it and scanned the first line, quickly realizing that it wasn’t a rejection but congratulations!

I gasped in utter surprise, then ran up the stairs to tell my daughter. Before I reached the top of the staircase, I remembered that I hadn’t read the entire email. So, I ran back down the stairs to read the rest!

My daughter was on the phone with my mom so I told her too. She was thrilled to share the excitement with me since she, as well as the rest of my family, have supported my dream through the years.

LISA: Tell us some of the background behind the idea for your stories and about the story itself.

BETH: When I first began writing novels I trained my mind to stay tuned to those little nuggets of inspiration that could generate an idea for a novel. I saw a short news clip on cranberry farming. The bright red berries floating on top a bog as they were harvested completely intrigued me. I decided I’d love to set a story on a cranberry farm.

Several years passed before that opportunity came. I needed a story set in Massachusetts, the perfect opportunity to write my cranberry story. The other aspect comes from my background and education in computer software and technology.

In Seasons of Love, Riley O’Hare trades in her stressful corporate job for a season of peace. She leaves California and heads to a place closer to home and closer to her heart—her grandfather’s farm nestled in the cranberry bogs of Massachusetts. She’ll also be closer to her brother, but before she leaves for the New England state, he dies. Once Riley moves to the farm, her brother’s business partner at a forensics technology company offers to help Riley through the harvest season. She has no clue what Zane Baldwyn is really after and guards her heart.

Zane wants answers. The police believe the car accident that killed John, Riley’s brother, was nothing more. Zane has doubts. Before his death, John—a brilliant programmer—left a cryptic clue with Riley without her knowledge. Zane must discover what John believed was so important and if he was killed for it. On the verge of losing his heart to Riley, Zane learns that John’s alleged killer is searching for the same thing, and no one is safe.

LISA: Readers are going to LOVE this story! (I can say that, because I’ve read it!) On to the next question. I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

BETH: There’s no doubt that writing causes you to slow down and look deeper into your own motivations as you explore those of your characters. In Seasons of Love, both the hero and heroine’s discoveries about their lives are based on my own experiences. Riley realizes that she doesn’t make enough time to spend with God because her life is consumed with work. Zane learns that maintaining control over his life and achieving worldly success is not going to make him happy. These are things I learned during my own stint at climbing the corporate ladder. I started out knowing these things about my characters, but what I learned from both of them was that I could have a deeper sense of trust in God’s plan for my life.

We spend our lives going to school, getting educated to have a career. I think it can be difficult, especially for women who choose to stay home with their family, to let go of your career. I thought I’d left behind that desire and drive to succeed in corporate America. The characters in Seasons of Love allowed me to release that remaining portion, though small.

LISA: What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

BETH: Well, I have to say that content, craft and connections must take a backseat to the spiritual side of things. Writing forces you to dig down deep and discover things inside you’ve ignored for years. It forces you to cry out to God and ask him why he called you to write. And because of that, the writing journey is more a spiritual journey. The desire to become published can be overwhelming. I’ve learned that the writing really has to be about God, for Him and to Him, and content in writing for Him alone.

LISA: Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

BETH: I do think it’s funny that after working on historicals for so many years, the one and only contemporary that I wrote is what is getting published first. I have to say that I loved writing this story and it’s sparked a desire to write others along the same vein—suspense stories that include technology. But the main thing I’d love to accomplish is to write something that affects someone in a powerful spiritual way. Of course, author Francine Rivers comes to mind. I think the spiritual depth she achieves in her novels is something we all aspire to achieve as writers.

LISA: Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published, especially from someone who has just broken in?

BETH: I’m sure there is no new advice that I can offer. We all know that persistence pays off. To work hard. Read, read, read, and write, write, write. I think something that has really kept me going is the fact that I haven’t been bowled over by rejection. I’ve received plenty of rejections, yes. Coming from a sales background, I know that it’s all about the numbers. The more you write, the better you’ll become. The more manuscripts you complete and have circulating with agents and editors, the better your chances. I think it’s important to keep yourself thinking positive and when you receive a rejection, go back to the numbers. Look up one of those sites that lists all of the rejections received by famous writers. Because even the big guys have gotten them, and still do! That always encourages me to keep moving forward.

One more thing is to cultivate those relationships that God places you in because God will use those. We really do need connections to help us along the way. God has blessed me with some wonderful writing friends, people that I can say are really my best friends because who else can understand me better than another writer. The writing journey is truly about your relationship with God and with others.

LISA: Wonderful words of encouragement, Beth. Thanks! Can’t wait to see your story in print next year! Beth also spent time chatting with me on my books recently and that interview will be posted at two of her blogs, so please take a moment to check out www.bethgoddard.blogspot.com and www.favoritepastimes.blogspot.com.

For those of you dropping by to check out my interview with Beth, I’m running a contest this month for TWO free books. (TWO people will win TWO free books!) Leave a comment, and I’ll enter you for a chance to win book three in my historical Massachusetts series, Adam’s Bride AND a copy of the light hearted comical novella collection, Sweet Home Alabama that I’m a part of.

Have a great Holiday Weekend!

Lisa

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fellowship and bittersweet good-byes


Okay, I have to admit that I’m tired. The past week has been crazy with company, sick children, and life in general that is always busy at the end of the school year. Gabriel spent a week in bed with tonsillitis. You know Gabe is sick when he doesn’t want to get out of bed. Thankfully, he’s back in school now and doing fine.

Friday night, I had our English cell group over for sloppy Joes and enjoyed a night of fellowship, singing, and prayer for each other. It’s been a blessing to be invited into this group where we can fill ourselves up spiritually every week and enjoy the fellowship of other Christians.

Sunday after church, our Wednesday night Bible study came over for a traditional meal of pap (This is the staple food of South Africa, a porridge made from corn meal then cooked with water and salt to a fairly stiff consistency) rice and sauce. They also enjoyed the German chocolate cake I made. Darlington asked for prayers because his employer is forcing him to work on Sundays, and he hasn’t been able to attend church the past two weeks. I challenged them to continue encouraging each other, praying for each other, and persevering. Life is not always easy for these workers, especially for those who are away from their families trying to earn enough money to feed their families. Please continue to pray for these new Christians.

As for bittersweet good-byes, November marks the end of the school year for us, and with it comes many activities. Last Friday we celebrated the graduation of Jayden’s pre-school with a number songs and a Christmas party. I became the class photographer, and enjoyed spending time with Jayden and his classmates.

While the school Jayden and Mariah attend has been a blessing to us, we knew that we were going to need to move them at some point to Gabriel’s school for a number of reasons. Financially, though, we were not able to do it, so I prayed that if it was God’s will he would provide a miracle and felt content, in the meantime, to keep them where they were. Last week, the miracle came as our board told us to go ahead and move all the children to Gabriel’s school next year and the finances would be taken care of. That left me with last minute testing for Mariah, while Jayden filled the last spot for kindergarten. They have both been accepted, and it will be a blessing to have them all at the same school.

Despite the move, though, we are really going to miss the King’s Court, the teachers, and the blessing this school has been to our kids.

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soard on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Soar with HIM today!

Lisa
Jayden at his end of the year celebration

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The price of forgiveness

Have you ever thought about the cost of forgiveness?

I think I often learn as much or more from the studies we are going through with some of our new Christians. As we work through the steps of freedom from sin, I’ve been struck by what it really means to forgive. I can forgive the driver of a car for pulling out in front of me, or my kids for leaving out their shoes, but what about when the stakes run a whole lot higher? It’s something I’ve been pondering all week.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how one of our new Christians was beaten severely while crossing the boarder into Zimbabwe. The issue of forgiveness became real to him--and all of us--as we discussed the importance of choosing to forgive. He asked me what he should do if he ever encountered these men again. The study we were going through was correct when it said that forgiveness was most likely the most difficult step.

We live in a world full of pain, violence, and hatred. Almost everyone I know here in South Africa has been affected by crime. One close friend of ours lost his father when he was shot and killed for his cell phone. Later his uncle was murdered in his home for barely more than $100. Stories like these happen far more often than anyone wants to admit.

And yet Christ calls us to forgiveness.

Difficult? Yes.

Impossible? No

Lord, teach us to forgive the way you’ve forgave us.

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Win two of my new books!

To celebrate two of my books being released in the next few weeks, I’d like to offer a contest! Leave a comment and I will include you in the drawing. Two people will win a copy of both Sweet Home Alabama and Adam’s Bride. I will draw both names on November 30th. Remember, you can't win if you don't sign up, and be sure and leave a way for me to contact you.

SWEET HOME ALABAMA
An anonymous, old-fashioned love note-a literature student's homework assignment-has been misplaced by its author. Jason finds the love note and mistakenly believes his new employee, Nicole, is hopelessly infatuated with him. When Zak finds the note on his tool cart at the garage, he's convinced Ellen's snobby friends and wealthy parents no longer pose an obstacle and plots an all-out strategy to win her heart. A matchmaking sister uses the note to ignite romance between Samantha and friend Garrett. And the note causes a collision of mistaken identity for Callie and Darryl and results in true love for two lonely souls.

ADAM'S BRIDE
From book three of my historical Massachusetts series:
Adam Johnson’s brother was killed by a Polish man, and he judges an entire people based on one man’s actions. But when he falls sick and is forced to rely on the kindness of two Polish immigrants, will Adam realize his prejudice is wrong?

Lidia Kowalski knows the New World is filled with prejudice. She’s done her best to hide her Polish heritage, and yet she knows she can not change who God made her to be. After finding Adam half-dead in the snow outside his door, she helps harvest his maple syrup. Once he recovers and they share a stolen kiss under the stars, she realizes that she’s losing her heart.

When Adam leans that his brother’s killer and Lidia’s brother are the same, will intolerance and loathing steal away Adam and Lidia’s future?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rejoicing


Last night, in the midst of hosting a Peace Corps friend for the evening, we had another baptism from our Bible study group. Jumbalonni accepted Christ and was baptized by David in our pool last night amidst songs of rejoicing from the rest of us. I challenged each of them to continue striving to know more about God and to encourage each other in their Christian walk.

Darlington, who was baptized three weeks ago, shared with me his excitement over reading about how God created the world for the first time from the Bible study book I gave him.

Have a great weekend!

Lisa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Light in the darkness

We just finished our Bible study, week one on freedom from sin, and confronted freedom from false religions with some serious issues like witchcraft, charms, and ancestors. During the study, I was struck by God’s great mercy and power. Tonight we had all seven of our group here, including Darlington, one of the new Christians, who just returned back from two weeks in Zimbabwe. Darlington shared how his way there, he and at least one other man was attacked, beaten by a group of men, and robbed of everything he had. The other man was stabbed in the chest and killed.

While Darlington is still having trouble with his ears, we praised God for saving his life. But more importantly, for knowing that he doesn’t have to fear death anymore because he is a child of God.

Toward the end of the study, two Elizabeth and Jombalani expressed a desire to learn more about accepting Christ and baptism, so David is continuing the study with them right now.

In a continent so full of darkness, please continue to pray that many will see the light of God and accept His love for them.

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, October 30, 2006

Languages

My children have Zulu and Afrikaans words sprinkled into their speech.

My neighbor, and most of the town we live in, speaks Afrikaans.

I have friends who speak Indian, Greek, Xhosa, Venda, and Sotho.

Officially, South Africa has 11 languages.

Language is all around us and the impact on our lives continually proves to be interesting. Our weekly Bible studies are a prime example. Out of five people, last week, I could communicate with three of them in English. Two of the women can’t communicate with each other. God has blessed us with David, our translator, who can communicate with all of them and speaks about ten languages.

Pretty humbling for a girl with a college degree and a smattering of French. David never went to school to learn English or most of the languages he can communicate in.

In December, we will be working in Mozambique for three weeks where the official language is Portuguese. Because of our French background, Scott is able to understand about 70% of what is spoken and believes I will as well. (We’ll see how far my smattering of French takes me.)

I am excited though to pick up a bit of the Portuguese and am starting now with David’s help. I’m also using my daughter as my language tutor to pick up some Afrikaans.

So for now good-bye. . .or shall I say. . .

Vaarwel. . .Salut. . .Adeus. . .Sala sentle. .and Sizobonana!

Lisa

Thursday, October 26, 2006

God's Love

I’ve started a discipleship class for some of our new Christians, and we had a great study last night doing an overview of the Bible. I was reminded once again of God’s love for His people, His never-ending desire to bring us back to Him no matter what we do, and His amazing gift of Christ on the cross.

Next week, we will begin going through the Steps of Freedom from sin, a simple adaptation of some of Neil Anderson’s fantastic material. We’ve found that many people don’t even have a clear understanding of what sin is. In a study I had a couple weeks ago with a woman, she said that the only sin she knew of was to steal. Because of this, discipleship has become a number one priority for us. It’s exciting to see the joy in their eyes as they learn God’s will for their lives, often for the first time.

We had a group of six last night and are waiting for the return of another new Christian who had to return temporarily to Zimbabwe. Please pray for these men and women as they seek to know God better.


On another note, I’m posting a couple pictures from Gabriel’s last swim meet. He is really enjoying the training and while he isn’t going to compete this year, other than a couple small meets at the school like this one, he seems to be loving every minute of it.

We also received feedback from Mariah’s ballet exams two weeks ago. She received an
A+ along with some wonderful comments on how graceful and poised she was. Way to go, Mariah!

Blessings,

Lisa

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

High crime and miracles. . .

It only took me a few hours being back in Joburg to be reminded of the horrid traffic and to hear stories of the city’s high crime rate over dinner. It also didn’t take long for me to remember just how much I missed many of the friends I made during the time we lived there.

With Scott leaving for the States on Sunday night, we left Friday and were able to spend time with some of our friends over tea, lunch, and even for a nice long chat during a thunderstorm. Sunday was a blessing as we worshiped at our old church’s new location and were blessed to see even more great people we’ve come to love.

It’s always struck me odd that I can miss the one city I was told to avoid living in. Joburg might be known for its crime, but thank God for wonderful friends who made it one of the best places I’ve ever lived!


One of my great Joburg friends, Gizela.


As for miracles, we are thanking the Lord doubly for His care and protection lately. Saturday afternoon, Scott dropped me off at a friend’s house. On his way back to the place we were staying, the brakes on our truck went out. I’m not sure if I’ve had the chance to mention it yet, but we recently traded in our double cab truck for a Land Cruiser. The mileage is low, despite the fact that the vehicle is fifteen years old. And while this is a very sturdy truck for our treks into the bush, there have been a few kinks to work out. The brakes, of course, are one of the more serious issues.

Scott managed to pull off the road with no problem, but discovered that a hose had cracked and brake fluid had spewed everywhere. Where’s the miracle in this? Well, the very next day I was to drive the four and a half hours home alone with the kids. The last hour of the trip is through the mountains, much of it being downhill. If the brakes had gone out then, it would have been a very serious situation. The second miracle was that the neighbor of the friend we were staying with was a. . .you guessed it. . .a brake specialist.

Isn’t God good! The man managed to find the parts needed on a Sunday morning and fixed the vehicle for us before I needed to leave for home.

So, today I’m thanking God for high crime cities filled with great friends and His abundant miracles!

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pretty in Pink


One of the blessings of living in South Africa, is the opportunity for our kids to participate in various sports and cultural events. During the past few weeks, school children have been participating in various activities from art, to ballet, to speech, to drama. They are then judged in their category. Both Gabriel and Mariah entered the art competition and received gold stars. Last Saturday, Mariah and her ballet class preformed in Tzaneen in an informal performance we all enjoyed.

Here are a few pictures from her ballet as well as a picture of her artwork that was displayed in the mall recently.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Christmas shopping for something unique?


Christmas is just around the corner in case you haven't yet noticed the on slot of lights and decorations at your local Wal-Mart store yet. If you live in the Dallas area, Scott will be a part of a fun evening of fine dinning, silent auctioning, and live entertainment. This is all a part of a fundraiser for our ministry that will be held on the 29th of October. There are also dinners being held in Houston in November. The dinners will be a time of sharing about our ministry (with a cool new video) as well as our needs.

If you’re interested in attending, drop me an email and I’ll send you an official invitation with all the details.

I’ve posted a couple pictures of some of the African items that will be included in the silent auction. . .just in time for Christmas!

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jacaranda trees. . .


Beth asked me to post a picture of a Jacaranda trees. The countryside around us is dotted with these trees and their bright purple blossoms. They're the kind of tree, though, that you want to enjoy in someone else's yard as their flowers leave a mess when they fall to the ground. All the same, I'm certainly enjoying them this spring!

Blessings,

Lisa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rejoicing. . .


My week has been so full, I haven’t had time to check my email let alone post a blog. Trying to overcome the effects of jetlag, reconnect with my family, work on looming book edits and deadlines, as well as ministry have left me running, but God is good and has given me the strength to keep going.

For those of you who keep up with my blog, you might have noticed that one of our passions here in Africa is discipleship. When someone accepts Christ, we spend a lot of time training them in the Word (many here have never heard the story of creation or of David and Goliath. . .) and then we train them how to reach out to others and share their faith. The learning process and growth never stops after conversion.

David has been a Christian about a year. When he first started working for us in Joburg as our gardener, he had no interest in God. Two years later, David is now sharing his faith with everyone he comes in contact with, and it’s amazing to see the transformation in his life because of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

David brought a man, who’s working temporarily across the street, to our Bible study Wednesday night. Darlington was not a Christian, but expressed a deep desire to know more. He came back the next night to study with David and Scott and brought with him Joyce, a maid who recently moved into the area. Scott studied more with Darlington, while David and I shared with Joyce. After about two hours of study, like the Ethiopian eunuch, they both pronounced their desire to follow Christ and be baptized immediately.

So, despite a very chilly night and even chillier water, Joyce and Darlington were baptized into Christ beneath the stars of our Creator!

Rejoice with me today and pray that they will grow in their faith!

Lisa

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Home again. . .

As much as I miss my friends, family, and the local Tex Mex restaurant, I have to admit that it’s good to be home. One of the things God really confirmed in my life while I was gone was that He has us exactly where He wants us to be. And for that I’m thankful, because while it might be hard to believe for some, I love where I live.

No, everything’s not perfect. There are things I really miss about the good ol’ USA, but God put a longing in my heart to serve Him here, so for me it brought a deep measure of peace to be able to visit, yet still hold an excitement to return home. I was welcomed by a beautiful mist across the mountains and the bloom of the purple
Jacaranda tree whose blossoms fill the view with their color.

The trip back was uneventful, for the most part, and LONG. I left Tulsa Sunday morning and after four planes with fifteen hours of layovers I finally arrived in South Africa on Tuesday. And we still had to drive the five hours home! I suppose the most eventful part of the trip was making our way down the steep and narrow pass through the mountains about forty minutes from home at dusk and discovering we had no headlights at all on our vehicle. Yikes! We managed to follow a car to where we were meeting Gabriel, then followed Allen on to our house because by then it was pitch dark with no street lights.

I do want to give a special word of thanks to my mom who made the trip possible. I enjoyed so much spending time with both my mom and my sister and her family. It was a true blessing to shop, chat, and drink coffee together.

Thanks as well to my wonderful husband who cooked, shopped, did homework with the kids and all of the other Mr. Mom details that have to be done to keep a house running while he had his own work and ministry as well. And my darling kids who did great helping dad, even fixing lunch for him one day so he could catch a breather.

Allen and Janelle, thanks for letting your teammate run off halfway around the world and supporting my family here.

Okay, enough of me sounding like I’m accepting some Oscar award, but I am thankful.

One the home front, I’ve jumped back into life with only one nap today. It was off to grocery shop, get the kids to and from school, start unpacking, straighten up the house for our Bible study, and try and stay awake until bedtime.

So, I'm back to catching up for now. . .

Lisa

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Espresso Anyone?

Okay, we’re back to the subject of the unbelievable amount of choices in the USA again. This time? Coffee.

Tonight was girls’ night out. A rare night when I got the change to laugh with my mom and sister over coffee. The talking wasn’t the issue. Bring in the Barnes & Noble coffee choices and I stood out like a glazed over, wide-eyed giraffe.

My sister was my translator. “The difference between a cappuccino and a latte is foamed milk verses steamed milk. . .”

I raise my eyebrows, but the choices only continue.

Tall, grande, or venti.

Regular or decaf. (Okay, I get that one)

Latté, Cappuccino, frapuccino, or espresso.

Whipped cream or non-fat. . .

And wait! There's more. Now we move on to flavors.

Pumpkin spice, cinnamon spice, mocha, raspberry, almond, vanilla. . .

Choices. Choices. Choices. Don’t you love them?

So, if you happen to see me sitting in the back corner of a bookstore, I’ll be the one drinking plain black decaf coffee. . .with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Blessings,

Lisa (who won’t even begin to go into the trials of trying to buy a pair of jeans. . .)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Technology and me. . .

It wasn’t too long ago when a blackberry was a juicy piece of fruit and a cookie was something you drank with milk. Today, the world has gone high tech and while I understand blogs, RAM, and hard drive space, I often feel left behind. Because of this, I have to admit that one of the things that always strikes me in coming back to the states after six years of living overseas is that life doesn’t wait for me to return!

Beside the fact that my niece and nephew have grown at least six inches since I last saw them, the technology advances always surprise me. I can never figure out how to swipe my card at Walmart, and who is that man talking into the air behind me with no phone in his hand?

Another thing that strikes me is the amount of stuff on the shelves. I know it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s not as if I’ve never lived in the states, but sometimes I still feel like a backward hick when I stand in front of an aisle of hairspray that seems to reach across the next state line. Is it really necessary to have to choose from five hundred bottles of sticky stuff that all do virtually the same thing?

I don’t think so.

So I skip the self-serve check out lines, don’t carry a cell phone, and try to avoid my ignorance at an espresso bar by ordering a tropical slushy. (That should make me feel at home, right?)

In spite of all my adjustments to being back in the States the past week and a half, it’s been such a joy to catch up on friendships and spend time with my family. Another cool thing has been to have a number of people tell me that they actually read my blog! I’m loving that. For those of you who have emailed me, I am behind on responding to emails as this has proven to be another one of those technological challenges for me as my South African server doesn’t seem to work here. J

Until my next post,

Lisa

Monday, September 25, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane. . .

Another (late) plane and I’m leaving Dallas on my way to Tulsa to see my mother. The ACFW conference was an incredible blessing. Seeing old friends, making new ones, meeting with editors, times of worship, attending the awards dinner, and being reminded as to why I want to write for Him made it a dynamic three days.

I was touched by so many things this past weekend. Besides working on the craft of writing, I enjoyed the encouragement and advice of other authors who have blazed a trail before me as I listened to their life changing messages.

Some things that I learned--

That success in God’s eyes is rarely the same as in human eyes. By human standards Jesus was a failure. Life isn’t about being popular. It’s about being like Jesus.

If God only worked through perfect people, nothing would get done.

We are to be holy as God is holy. This is success.

That my sale numbers aren’t as bad as I thought.

That it’s offering my gifts up to God daily to be used by Him and NOT sales numbers that really count.

A publisher is interested in my ideas to write international suspense set in Africa. (Yeah!)

I need to swallow my fear, move forward, press on, and keep going.

I didn't take nearly enough pictures at the conference, but I've posted a few below.

Be blessed today!

Lisa

Some of my writing buds!



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Going Home. . .Yet now so far away from home

It’s an interesting place I find myself this morning. Halfway between the two worlds that I know. Frankfurt is overcast this morning, a stark reminder that I’m nowhere near my sub-tropical home in Africa where the sky is always blue. Neither am I near the home where I grew up where red, white, and blue flags fly in the breeze.

I wanted to shed a few tears yesterday and it wasn’t from Joburg’s hectic airport or from the fact that ‘I’m leaving on a jet plane’ played in the background. I was going home, while at the same time missed the home I was leaving behind. It’s an interesting phenomenon, living in two worlds, and being a part of two cultures.

I can’t deny who I am, or where I was born, and neither do I want to. My children, though, who still speak of Texas, now have a South African accent, love braiis, and riding in our bakkie. Gabriel plays field hockey and rugby while dreaming of becoming a Navy Seal.

Cultures mesh, languages flow together, seasons change, and I become more of another culture without ever wanting to lose who I was. And so I find myself going home, so far away from home.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quick Update


It's funny how everything I see in Africa, I see in terms of would this make a great post or photo to share on my blog. Here's a picture of Gabriel dressed up as Willy Wonka for Roald Dahl day at school. According to Gabriel, whoever has the best costume wins his or her weight in Skittles.

This past week, though, has zoomed by with hardly a moment to breathe, let alone think of something worthwhile to post. Scott returned Wednesday night after nine days in Mozambique. (I will be sharing an update of his trip with pictures this weekend.) With him gone, things are always crazy. This week has been full of keeping up with the kids schedules, heavy book edits and deadlines. . .and packing.

Yes, packing!

I’m so excited because I leave on Monday for a short trip back to the states to see my mother. She called me a few weeks back and asked if I could please come for a short time since she was not able to make the trip to South Africa as she’d planned. It’s been a whirlwind of getting ready not only to see her, but I’m also going to the American Christian Writer’s Conference in Dallas. This is the frosting on the cake as I will have the opportunity to connect with some of my best writer friends, meet my new editor, and pitch an international suspense series. Yeah!

Speaking of writing, I have three books coming out between now and February--a romance, a romantic comedy, and a cozy mystery. (Can you hear the excitement in my voice?) I will be having a number of FREE giveaways in the coming weeks from my blog for all three books so check back often!

Until I return in three weeks, you won’t hear much from me except for a few updates on my trip from the other side of the world. (I’ll try not to bore you with my frequent excursions to Wal-Mart for socks and slippers and such!)

Until then, be blessed!

Lisa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

UPDATE FROM MOZAMBIQUE

I recieved a text message from Scott late last night and am excited that things are going so well. He and Allen are out in a village where they are spending several days discipling Edwardo. Here's what he had to say.

"We are spending the weekend discipling Edwardo. His cousin Joao, just accepted Christ and we will be discipling him as well. Tomorrow, we will go and witness to his wife. On Sunday, we plan to model a house church with the Lord's supper, etc. Lord willing we will have the beginnings of two house churches before we leave next week."

We are excited to see how God is already moving among the Tonga people. Mozambique will be the focus of our work in the coming months as we train and disciple the new believers.

Please pray for this new work and for Scott and Allen as they continue to teach and minister.

Blessings,

Lisa

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The price of gas and other commodities. . .


I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the cost of living here in South Africa. One thing we always have to deal with is the fluctuating strength of the dollar verses the South African rand.

When we first arrived here, the rand was about 7 to one dollar. A year later, it had dropped below six. How does this affect our financial state? Say, for example, that I spend 1000 rand a month on groceries. (I wish) When the rand is seven to the dollar, it would cost me $142 dollars. When the rand drops, say to 5.8 to the dollar, I’m then paying $172 for the same amount of groceries. As you can see, this can add up quite quickly when the dollar is weak.

The price of fuel has almost doubled since our arrival and right now we are paying over $4.30 a gallon. Cheep compared to Zambia where the cost can rise above $7 a gallon! Another big raise has been beef. Up 33% in the past year. Even when prices seem comparable to the state, the quantity is sometimes only about half the size.

Here’s a sampling of prices:

12 oz box of Rice Krispies $2.50
2 liter coke $1.60
Canned tomatoes 75 cents
Canned kidney beans 88 cents
Canned fruit $1.50-$2.50
Package of Hot dogs $2.45
6 pack of yogurt, 3.5 ounces each $1.50
1 liter of milk $1.00
Olive oil 26 ounces $9.00
Canola oil 26 ounces $1.00
9 ounces Doritos $1.60
1 pound ground beef $2.40
10 avocados in season $1.00

Overall, we’ve learned to adjust our eating to fit the market. Canned goods are very high, but fresh fruit and vegetables are very reasonable.

Another interesting difference is the cost of cars and houses. Cars are very expensive. We have an old used car that cost as much as a new car in the States. On the other hand, land isn’t worth much here, so we were blessed with a nice plot of land and a four bedroom house for much less that we could have ever found an equivalent in Dallas.

PRAYERS

On another note, please pray for Scott and Allen as they left for Mozambique yesterday to register with the government so we can start our work there. So far, things seem to be going well. They will finish in the capital then leave for Edwardo’s village, a new believer who has gone home to share Christ with his family. They will spend time teaching him and his family for several days.

Please pray also that our house in Dallas will sell quickly!

Blessings,

Lisa

Friday, September 01, 2006

SPRING IS IN THE AIR


Today, on this side of the world anyway, is the first day of spring. We celebrated by visiting Jayden and Mariah’s school to be a part of their fun walk fundraiser. Besides the walk, there was lots of food, a jumping castle, coloring contests, swimming. . .and more food. The kids have been looking forward to this day for almost two weeks, and thankfully the weather cooperated. It’s actually been rather cold lately, so the sunshine was a welcome sight!

The new season also reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for. Because we don’t have television, I recently subscribed to the New York Times headlines through my email. Between the news, daily prayer requests I receive, and the struggles I see around me every day, it’s easy for me to get depressed about life and to forget why I’m here.

This inspired me to make a list of what I’m thankful for. And to each of you, if you’d like, take five minutes over your weekend and send me a comment with some ways God has blessed you recently and why you are thankful. For those of you who receive my posts directly to your box, you can click on the title and it will send you to the web page if you are online where you can leave a comment.

I’d LOVE to hear about what you’re thankful for in your life and rejoice with you!

Here’s a few of mine:

1. My family
2. My mom is flying me home for three weeks later this month to spend time with her and my sister’s family, as well as to allow me to attend a writer’s conference. (see you soon mom!)
3. Our cell group is growing
4. Winter is over


Anyone else?

Blessings,

Lisa

"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Excitement is in the air. . .

Okay, you’re probably thinking I’m talking about a something profound like I just signed a three book contract (okay, so that would be great too) but no, I’m talking about excitement over a new grocery store. Or at least a new improved one.

You have to understand when we left Joburg last year to move to Duiwelskloof I went through a bit of culture shock. Gone were the big grocery stores, movie theaters, and McDonalds, and in their place was a small town with little amenities to offer. For the most part, I’ve had little to complain about. The people are friendly, and I never tire of the mountain views and tropical setting.

But then there was the day I want to look for a bag of apples.

I stopped first at the main grocery store in town, but all I found were a few bags of bruised fruit. So I trudged on to another small store I’d never stopped by before. Again, it was the same thing, but worse. I found a broken down cardboard box, with a few very rotten apples. There was one last store to check. I stepped inside and scanned the small room. Canned goods, milk, chips, and a row of open deep freezers. . .but no fruit. Something did catch my eye though as I started to turn toward the door. In the freezer was. . .a cow’s head. No kidding here. Someone had shoved a cow’s head, horns, blood everywhere, and all, into the open freezer.

I remember flooring it home and wondered why in the world we’d left behind the ease of city life.

Needless to say, I don’t do a lot of shopping in our small town. Instead I drive into the town of Tzeneen about twenty minutes away where I can find most everything we need. Until now that is. Our Spar, a chain store in South Africa, is totally renovating inside and expanding, and I have to say I’m quite excited. We’ll see in a few weeks if what they offer is really an improvement, but being the optimist that I am, I’m saying it will!

Until then, enjoy a few pictures of our town.

Coming soon. . .The price of gasoline and other such commodities.

Be blessed,

Lisa

Our new Spar grocery store














A local clothing store














One of two gas stations














The butcher shop

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A baby who doesn’t cry, doesn’t get any milk. . .

I recently spent time doing extensive research for a historical novel I'm writing that’s set in southern Africa, and in the process, discovered a gold mine of African sayings and Proverbs. From stories like ‘Why the Zebra has no horns’, to sayings such as ‘Even a wise man can’t catch hold of a shadow.’

The one in my title came from one of our new Christians who was asking me a number of questions after church. He told me that some people had criticized him for asking too many questions, but I assured him that asking questions were the way to learn.

So, if you’re ever afraid to ask a question, remember this:

Ngoana ea salleng o shoela tharing. . .or a baby who doesn’t cry, doesn’t get any milk!

Blessings,

Lisa

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hope from the heart of Africa

(Our internet has been down for four days, so I’m posting last Friday’s a bit late)

I hadn’t planned to add commentary to my slide shows, but tonight I wept openly and felt the need to share. I brought in Gabriel, my nine year old son, to sit in my lap and together we watched the story of Alone through a slide presentation from the New York Times. His story ripped my heart into pieces.

Alone is nine years old, the same age as Gabriel, and lives in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. It’s a place we’ve been to many times. His mother died in 2001, and he hasn’t seen his father for years. He lives with his grandmother in a one room, cinderblock house. At night he sleeps on the cement floor. During the day, he rises at six thirty in the morning to go work in the query crushing rocks. He works for two hours, with no breakfast then goes to school. At school, he has a hard time concentrating. He’s hungry and tired. At one o’clock, he returns to the query and works for another five hours until it’s time to walk home. Supper is his only meal of the day.

Nine years old, small, undernourished. . .and truly, alone.

There are three hundred children from Alone’s school who also work in the query. Barely making enough money to help their family with a place to sleep, one meal a day, and enough water to survive.

I first thought I’d entitle today’s slideshow Tears from the Heart of Africa, but instead of tears, I’ve entitled it Hope. Hope from the Heart of Africa. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I realize that I can’t change the whole world. I can’t take away poverty. I can never insure that each child has three meals and a warm bed at night. I can’t give a loving home to every child who’s taken into child labor to work as a prostitute, a miner, a street vendor, or a full-time servant. But I can still make a difference. Each one of us can, one person, or one child at a time.

I doubt that anyone reading this post will go to bed tonight with no supper. We have shoes on our feet, and warm beds to sleep in. We are blessed. Because of this, go out and make a difference in one person’s life today. . .and tomorrow. . .and the next day. A neighbor, a friend, someone who’s lonely and needs a phone call, someone you see on the street, someone who needs a friend, a hot meal, a shoulder to cry on. . .and start changing the world, one person at a time.

Be blessed,

Lisa

Link to the New York Times slide presentation on child labor: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/world/20060814_ZAMBIA_FEATURE/blocker.html?th&emc=th


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG. . .


Okay, no, my title is not a typo, but can you pronounce it?

Scott just returned from a very productive ministry trip to Zimbabwe where he and Allen met with about thirty church leaders for a three day, intense conference. “Can you pronounce it?” was one of the first questions he asked the group.

Why? Because this ‘word’ describes the problem he wanted to address.

“If You Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing, You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Been Getting.”

Scott’s focus for the weekend was the importance changing our way of thinking from survival mode to intentional evangelism and church planting--and becoming fishers of men. He shared on the importance of finding a person of peace, like Lydia and Cornelius, and how from the very beginning, we want our house churches to be groups that are evangelistic. We want our cells to have a group DNA that includes the urgent mission to reach out to “ALL.”

I won’t go into all the details of his talks in my post, but the power point he put together was absolutely fantastic, and I’m excited to see how God will use this information to motivate the churches here throughout southern Africa for His glory.

As for happenings at home, life is never dull. Our internet is finally up after being down for two days, we have limited water for the next two weeks (complete water outages from time to time), and some nasty pluming problem. All of that and another snake! But spring is in the air and we are all healthy, so there are no complaints from me!

Next week I plan to post a slideshow of photos each day. . .from the heart of Africa. So stay tuned!

Blessings,

Lisa

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Playing catch up. . .

I thought it was time I took a breath and sent a post. I've discovered that with Scott out of town, life gets very hectic for me. I temporarily become the parent, chef, chauffer, mentor, disciplinarian, tutor, pal. . .the list goes on and on. These last few days have been no exception. With school in full swing, life is good, but full.

Today, Gabriel played his first field hockey game, and wouldn't you know I forgot to bring the camera. I'm hoping he will have more so I can take a few pictures. He certainly loves his sports and does very well. He's concentrating on swimming right now as he's recently joined a swim club, something we feel will be good for him. Mariah continues with her ballet, loves spelling and reading, and Jayden just loves to play and be around people.

I have a bit of good news; I just sold my tenth book! This latest sale is the second book in my cozy mystery series. I can hardly believe it, and feel so blessed to have the opportunity to write as part of my ministry. I still feel like a newbie in the business, though, and know I still have so much to learn!

In the next day or two, I'll share about Scott's trip into Zimbabwe. They've crossed the boarder back into South Africa, so I'm praising God that not only did their trip go well, but they are safe.

Blessings,

Lisa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

If you died tonight. . .


I continue to be excited about the growth God is bringing us through our cell group. We are specifically reaching out to the domestic workers in our area, a group of people often overlooked. I’m constantly amazed at their excitement as they learn stories from the Bible that they have never heard before. Often David, who translates for those who don’t speak English, gets so drawn into the lessons that he forgets to translate. His enthusiasm is refreshing.

In the African cultures, it’s considered polite to receive gifts with both hands as a sign of thankfulness and honor. One of the questions we often ask people is if you were to die tonight, would God receive you with both hands. We asked the question on Wednesday night to our group. Two of the new Christians said yes, but the other three said no, they didn’t believe that God would receive them.

This led to a time of David sharing why he could confidently say yes, God would receive him. Our goal is not to simply make converts, but to train disciples. Disciples that will develop a deep relationship with God, an understanding of God’s word, and who will in turn express the joy of their faith with others. What a wonderful experience it was to watch as David shared why he was confident that God would accept him with two hands. Their conversations continued after our own study and onto the next evening as David continued to share with them.

On another note, please pray for Scott and Allen as they are now in Bulawayo teaching a number of our leaders. The situation in Zimbabwe continues to worsen by the day, so we ask for your fervent prayers for their safety during this time.

Blessings,

Lisa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

TWELVE DAYS IN AFRICA

(To be sung to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas)

On our recent trip through Africa we saw the strangest things. . .

Twelve lazy hippos

















Eleven elephant crossings
















Ten armed police checks
(no photos allowed)




Nine million kwacha
















Eight border crossings
















Seven plates of Nshima

















Six shopping malls
















Five. . .malaria infested mosquitoes.
















Four-wheel driving

















Three thousand miles

















Two weeks of cold showers






















And a troop of monkeys in a baobab.