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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