Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Renewing your Passion

I’m popping in now between power outages and downed internet service, something I’ve finally decided is going to be the norm from here out. (Okay, I’m a bit slow at times LOL).

The past few months have been busy for us between family, ministry and writing, and, like most of you, finding that balance is tough. Most years, when New Years rolls around, I’m excited for new beginnings. For a chance to set new goals after reevaluating the past year. This year was different. I didn’t have the excitement of a starting over and I wasn’t sure why.

Until now.

I realized this past week that I was losing my passion. The reason behind why I do what I do. Why do I live in a country full of crime, far from friends and family, surrounded by a half a dozen language I don’t understand? Why do I spend hours every day writing books that will pay me little in the end for my time and effort? Why do I continue to work with my kids to train them to be what God would have them be?

I’m sure you ask yourself similar questions from time to time. Questions like why do I work 40 hours a week with never a word of appreciation? Why do I ferry my kids around from one activity to the next without hearing thanks? Why do I volunteer to teach Sunday school, coach little league, or even. . .pray? And does God even hear my prayers?

Last year I read through the Old Testament, ending up, of course, with the prophets. This year, I decided that Revelation was the next logical place to read and with it, I picked up Randy Alcorn’s book HEAVEN. This is the third time I’ve read his book and let me tell you, along with God answering my prayers, I have seen my passion renewed full force the past week. It’s as if He reminded me that yes, IT IS WORTH IT!

I want to write stories that convey what God has done for us by sending His only Son as a ransom. I want to minister to the people around me who don’t know God. I want to train up my children in the Lord so when they are old they won’t depart from it.

And there’s more. God reminded me that my ultimate goal is heaven. Eternity with Him!

A problem often comes up here, though. Heaven is a reality, as is hell, but how can we long for a Heaven when we don’t understand it? How can we look forward to reigning with Christ for eternity if we never think about it?

II Thessalonians 5 talks about when Jesus comes back and then Paul tells us to encourage each other with these words. We need to be encouraging each other that life here is temporary. We’re involved in a spiritual battle, but ultimately, Christ will win. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If that doesn’t motivate your passion to persevere, then I don’t know what will!

Randy Alcorn’s Heaven is a phenomenal book that will help rekindle your excitement to not just go to church on Sunday, but to faithfully walk-the-walk. This is only our temporary home and getting excited about spending eternity with Christ (and I’m not talking about floating on clouds and singing forever!) will renew a passion inside you!

Here’s what Alcorn’s website says about the book:

“We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers. In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it—a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ's presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.”

Check out his website here: http://www.epm.org

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. I promise you it’s worth every penny you spend on it. And in visiting his website I was also thrilled to note that he has a children’s version as well, something I will definitely be adding to my library.

On a completely different note, I’d planned to post some photos of Mariah’s eighth birthday as well as Gabriel’s last track meet, but Scott left for language school with the camera and I forgot to download the pictures. Mariah had a great time with six other girls, a tea party, jewelry making, and lots of goodies.

Gabriel has two track meets this week after doing well last Saturday. He came in second in the 100 meter, but unfortunately tripped at the first hurdle during the 70 m sprint and was unable to make up his time. Thankfully he will have another change this week to try again, as he has the potential to bring home a metal in that race. We also heard he qualified for the South African summer games in the backstroke for swimming, but we’re still waiting on the details for that. If it’s something that requires traveling, we won’t be attending since he’s only nine and has lots of time left for competing when he gets older.



Thursday, January 25, 2007

Say What?

I have to admit I’ve encountered a few rather odd things this week that have made me laugh. First of all, I’ve been so excited over the fact that our internet is now connected to a new tower about a mile from our house. I’m finally able to work and research without the internet going down every other day. Or so I thought. For the past week, the internet has started going off every night then eventually coming on in the morning. As you can imagine, with a looming deadline that requires online research, I’ve been a bit frustrated. Apparently the company that handles our internet service has been trying to find out what the problem is, fearing there was some sort of big issue to deal with. Turns out the problem wasn’t that serious at all. The new tower is on top of a woman’s house, and she’s been cutting off the electricity every night!

When’s the last time you went to McDonalds and ordered this burger for lunch?

An all beef patty, mustard sauce, cheese slice, tomato, hash brown, diced onion. . .and apricot chutney sauce. That’s the latest Steers special.

Lastly, the plagues of Egypt have been visiting in the form of frogs. Yesterday I stepped outside my back door and tripped over four of them. Everyday I find at least one inside. We’re just thankful that it’s not the snakes choosing to take up residence in our house!



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We're official and other good news!

First, I want to thank you all so much for your prayers. Many of you have contacted me privately to tell me you are praying for us and it means so much. I wanted to share a few answered prayers today!

Visas: After working for the past six months to extend our Visas, we finally received new work permits allowing us to stay in South Africa! Our old ones expired last month (we had to cross the boarder to renew them temporarily) but our new ones are good for another four years!

Kids: Gabriel has completely recovered from his allergic reaction. We still don’t know what caused it this time, but except for a bit of peeling around his face, he is fine. He participated in the year’s first track meet with other schools in the area and did very well. He came in first in the high jump, first in the 70 m hurdles, and second in the 100 m sprint!

Mariah and Jayden were able to run their first track meet last Saturday, and while they won’t be running any other races this year, they sure enjoyed this fun day.

Ministry: Scott and Allen leave on Sunday night to spend a week in Johannesburg for intense Portuguese classes. Then the following Monday Scott leaves for Mozambique to work on finishing up our registration that will allow us to work in the country. We are anticipating three groups coming this summer to help with a medical clinic in Mozambique, a camp for the orphans we support in Zimbabwe, and help for a church in Zimbabwe to build a structure.

Writing: My last deadline is next week, and I’m currently working extra hours to finish up my first contemporary for Heartsong Presents that will come out this November. I’m waiting to hear from publishers on a number of projects, but until then, I’m looking forward to a bit of time off to catch up some other things between the kids and ministry.



Monday, January 22, 2007

Prayers for our little athlete

We ended up taking Gabriel to the emergency room Sunday during church because of an allergic reaction. He’s had four reactions in the past three years, but we’ve always been able to trace them to something specific. So far we know he’s allergic to two preventative malaria medicines (he now is unable to take any malaria medicine) and fabric softener. This time we have no idea what caused the reaction.

At the hospital, with his lips and face swollen, they immediately put him on an IV to administer the medication as he was starting to have trouble breathing, though part of this we are sure was also a panic attack. He stayed about an hour before we were able to bring him home, but this was a scary time for all of us. Some of his reactions in the past have been severe, lasting up to a month. This one should clear up much sooner.

In spite of this, he was still able to participate in a swim meet Friday and the inner house track meet for his school on Saturday. In fact, all three children were able to run on Saturday, and while the meet was long, (at least for the mommies and daddies) they really enjoyed themselves. This is a compulsory day for all the students where they compete in a fun yet structured athletic meet to determine who will make the school team. Jayden loved his first track meet and was disappointed he couldn’t run more races. Even Mariah had fun, and this is coming from a girl who in the past has hated any kind of sports day. It’s nice when peer pressure helps in a positive way as many of her new friends enjoy track.

Today, I just found out that Gabriel ran the hurdles for the first time during practice and came in first. He’s also done very well in the high jump, long jump, and the 100 meter. He will be competing in all of these on Wednesday in the year’s first meet with other schools.

Please pray that we can find out what caused this last allergic reaction, and that God will grant Gabriel a measure of peace. He knows how bad it can be, and that’s scary for a nine year old.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement!



Friday, January 19, 2007

Enduring patiently

Have you ever really thought about those two words? Enduring patiently. In my mind, I have a hard time putting them together. Yesterday, our power went out for about six or seven hours during the day and then again during the night. Thankfully we’re not in the middle of an ice storm like so many Americans, but I did have another problem. I’m on a tight book deadline and losing a day of writing. . .well. . .let’s just say I can’t. I typed ferociously until my battery died, then switched to Scott’s laptop, managing to finish most of my goal for the day. With frequent power outages expected to continue across the country, my battery is staying charged now that the power’s back on in anticipation of it going out again.

A power outage won’t be the biggest test of my patience, nor has it been, but it reminded of something God’s been reminding me about lately. Patient endurance. I’m amazed at how many times these two words are used in the New Testament. Over and over we are called to patiently endure trials. It’s a fact I’m reminded of everyday. In Africa, I see difficulties and trials on a daily basis like poverty, AIDS, crime, and corruption. But I know the same is true for people no mater where they live.

I receive a number of prayer requests from various friends and email loops on a daily basis. What I read often brings me to tears at the helplessness in people’s heart wrenching stories. Unemployment, sickness, loss, divorce. . .and the list could go on and on. How can God have simply called us to patiently endure these hardships? What happens when it’s simply too much to endure? There are no easy answers. It’s a topic I often deal with in my books, yet happily-ever-after-endings are too often missing in real life.

In my eyes, Paul was a man of endurance. He seemed to stay strong in his faith whether in prison, sick, or even shipwrecked. Yet I read this morning how he came to the point where he despaired even of life. Things had progressed far beyond even his ability to endure. Then he writes that this happened so that he wouldn’t rely on himself, but on God. (II Cor 1:9)

It was God who delivered Paul from deadly peril.

And he will deliver us!

“On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” (vs 10-11)

None of us know what the future holds. The Bible says that there will be wars and rumors of wars, but Jesus tells us not to be alarmed. Instead, he calls for “patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)

So whatever your situation is at the moment, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful!” Hebrews 10:23



Tuesday, January 16, 2007

As I mentioned on a previous post, my internet connection has been pretty worthless lately. Today, Scott was on his way to apply for a different provider (not that we have many to chose from), when our current provider showed up and connected us to a new tower down the road from us! I now can actually research my book, post on my blog and check email. Yeah!

In the midst of all of this, I've also been switching servers for my website and email after designing a new site. So if you have a chance, please check out my new website. Same address, www.lisaharriswrites.com. You might have to refresh the settings if you’ve visited before. I'd love to hear what you think!

Below, I've
posted some picture of the kids, the first day of school, and their school.



Friday, January 12, 2007

What's for dinner?

One of the things I’ve always loved about living in a foreign country is the chance to try out new foods. From shema, to steaks au poivre, to fire-hot curry, I’ll try it all. Okay, well, maybe not all. I’ve managed to drawn the line at fried worms and sheep brains, but for the most part, I love not only trying out new dishes, but learning how to make them as well.

In West Africa I learned how to make Ghanaian peanut stew and spicy fish sauce. In France it was rocklett and crepes.

Right now, my latest effort is curry.

I’ve tried a dozen or so recipes and finally found my favorite curry mix. Rajah. There’s nothing like cabbage with curry. . .chicken with potatoes and curry. . .beans and curry. . .

So no takeout tonight (not that Duiwelskloof has a great choice--or any choice really--of take out) . . .we’re having curry.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back to School

School starts for most of South Africa on Wednesday, and since this is the beginning of the school year, the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement. We’ve been blessed with financial help that will allow them to all go to the same school this year, so it will be nice to have them back together again. The beginning of school also signals back to school supplies and uniforms. Except, there’s no Walmart or Target here for one stop shopping, and the supply list. . .well, it’s not always easy to interpret. After four stores, here’s a few of the things I brought home.

1 French Knitting
1 Ball of wool in soft bag
1 ponal glue
Arch lever file
Mon Ami “Twisty” wax crayons
1 large scrapbook (bigger than an A4)

And, of course, don’t forget the big (empty) ice cream container to store stationery in. For some reason, no one was selling those. . .empty that is.

On a different note, I always try to keep my post upbeat and fun for the most part, but we’ve been under a lot of spiritual attack lately and would really appreciate your prayers. What has amazed me, though, is in the midst of all this is seeing God’s sovereign hand at work. Praise God for his faithfulness.

Allen and Scott are in Lusaka right now after four days with the leaders in Zambia and will spend this coming weekend with the church in Zimbabwe. So far their time has gone well. Please pray for their safety as they travel!



Coming soon. . .What’s for dinner?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2007 and Perseverance

I had great expectations of posting a moving New Year’s piece that would motivate us into the coming year. Then life, along with no internet access, stepped in. So much for motivation. I haven’t even set my goals yet for 2007!

New Years did bring with it something wonderful, though. A few days of cold weather! The mist in this photo drifted into our living room, something the kids thought was too cool. We made it down to the high 50's! Unfortunately the cool weather didn’t last and we’re back into summer.

Scott and Allen left for Zambia and Zimbabwe last Tuesday to meet with the leaders and plan the coming year. They made it to Mongu safely and so far their time has gone pretty well. Please pray that these meeting will go well and the focus will stay on what is important.

School starts on Wednesday and the kids are raring to go back. We will be starting a new school year which will mean new teachers and friends and a bit of adjustment, but I’m looking forward to a good year.

The past few weeks have been challenging for me, and I know that that has been the case for several of you as well. For 2007, “let us throw off everything that hinders us and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and prefecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

May we persevere together!