Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

As we countdown the last few hours of 2009, I want to wish all of you a very blessed new year! This past year has been one of change for our family, but through it all, God has been so faithful.

Here are a few of the highlights from my year (in no particular order)

*Saw growth in ministry as people came to know Christ
*Visits from Sugar Creek Team and Cinco Ranch
*Saw the big five for the first time
*Luis and Fernanda join our team
*Unexpected chance to see friends and family in the States
*Celebrated nineteen years of marriage
*Four books released
*Moved to a new, and much better house
*R&R as a family in Swaziland
*Time with Janelle and Allen in Texas
*Weekend with AOM board and Richard Green in November
*Started new home schooling system we love

I know there is a lot more I could add, but what about you? What were some of your highlights from 2009? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for being a part of our lives. I've pasted a video below with some highlights of our time in Kruger (with my leopard).

Be blessed,


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Game drive

We've been without internet and electricity off and on for most of the week, and the temperatures continue to soar, but it's still good to be home. Scott's already jumped back into work and ministry while I've been working on unpacking and getting the kids settled in.

While we were still in South Africa, we spent a day at Kruger and while we didn't see a whole lot of animals, the terrain was beautiful, very green and lush. We took a friend of ours, Patricia, who'd never been to Kruger and who wanted to see a lion. Not too long into the drive, we saw a male lion lying close to the side of the road. That was definitely the most exciting part of the day.

I made a quick video, because while we didn't see much, we did see a number of interesting things we'd never seen before. One was the hundreds of frogs at one of the water holes. As you will hear in the video, they were incredibly loud. I also saw a mopani worm at one of the rest stops. You can find these worms for sale to eat in the stores (you can even chose what flavor you want, like potato chips) but I'd never seen a "live" one before.

I'd planned to add some footage of the leopard I saw earlier this year as well, but with all the power dips my internet is way to slow to upload another video clip right now, so you can look forward to seeing that soon.

On another note, a big thanks to everyone who's left name ideas for my suspense novel. I've had so much fun reading through everyone's ideas! There's still a few days left to comment if you come up with something. I'll announce the winner the beginning of next week.

If I don't get a chance to post again before New Years, may God grant each one of you His peace and blessings in the coming year.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade Christmas

It amazes me how adaptable kids can be, and what great ideas they can come up with. Since we're still "stuck" in South Africa, we borrowed Grandma's Christmas tree and the kids decorated it with paper ornaments. They've had so much fun and all it took was paper, pencils and a bit of glitter! We'll also getting ready to decorate sugar cookies later today. And we heard from the mechanic who said our car will be ready by the end of the week, so we're planning to head home on Monday!

It's hard to believe that another year is almost over. Thanks for following our lives through this blog, for your comments, email, prayers, and encouragement. And if you're in the mood for baking something home made, try the wonderful recipe below for a South African Pumpkin Pie.

Have a very Merry Christmas!


South Africans eat pumpkin as a vegetable, not a sweet desert. Restaurants often serve it as a creamy side dish that's similar to mashed potatoes. This recipe is thicker and in South Africa, made with fresh pumpkin, never from a can. Thanks to my wonderful friend, Gizela for passing on the recipe!

4 Cups cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup margarine

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Embracing the unexpected

Those of you who know me, might be surprised to know that I don’t like surprises and love a strict routine. Life on the mission field, though, has forced me to bend, grow, and become flexible.

At least I try.

When Scott called me earlier today and told me the car still wasn’t ready as promised, I struggled not to cry. As we’ve waited in South Africa, the kids have been counting down the days until Christmas, but we’ve yet to put up a Christmas tree, wrap presents, or even play Christmas music.

And while I know that Christmas isn’t about hanging stockings and singing Christmas carols, I love those special family traditions.

The truth is that the past few years haven’t gone according to “my” plans. When we bought our house in northern South Africa four and a half years ago, I told Scott I wasn’t moving again.


Well, God certainly had other plans. In the past two years, we’ve lived in four countries, which caused me to look hard at what’s important. I’ve pretty much chucked the idea that my kids will lead a normal life (though who’s to say what “normal” is). No T-ball, ballet classes, Forth of July parades, or white Christmas’ with boxed stuffing and pecan pie for desert.

Which is okay. Most of the time anyway. ☺

So this reminder is for me today, but maybe you need it as well. Jesus left the glory of heaven with all it’s perfection and beauty and especially the presence of His Father to come to a world full of sin and strife. And because of His love for us, He was willing to endure all that pain to the point of dying on the cross.

For us.

Yes, that’s you and me with all our flaws, imperfections, dreams, hopes and failures.

He came to Earth as a baby to fulfill God’s plan of redemption because of His great love for us.

Luke wrote: So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

I’m sure Mary never expected that visit from the angel that changed her life, that she would be with child from the Holy Spirit, or that she would have to travel to Bethlehem and give birth to her firstborn child in a manger.

And yet she listened and followed God’s plan for her life.


Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes the pain seems too hard to bear, while other times we’re surprised by blessings beyond our wildest dreams. And through all the laughter and the tears, one thing that remains constant. Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Did you hear that?

He won’t change who he is or what he expects from us, or his love for us. How reassuring in times of uncertainty.

So for today, embrace the unexpected and hold fast to the One who never changes.

And as you celebrate this holiday season, remember the baby born in a stable, who grew up to give His life for you and me, then rose again giving us hope of a future.

Be blessed today,


Monday, December 21, 2009

Touching the community

Two weeks ago, Scott challenged the Christians to continue serving in the community as we strive to help people both spiritually and physically. They decided to go out and rebuild the houses of eight families whose reed homes had burned to the ground in a horrible fire. We collected clothes and things for the home, then last week, they gave of their time (and muscles) and worked to build the homes.

It was amazing to see how lives were touched, both those who were ministered to, and the Christians as they helped and God's love was shared with them.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I need your help!

Since it's long past time for me to run my December contest, I came up with a fun idea. And this time, I need your help!

I'm busy writing book two in my Zondervan suspense series and am finally well past the halfway mark.(Yeah!) But I have this character who needs a bit of help. To be specific, he needs a nickname. And unfortunately, I haven't been able to come up with one that clicks.

So here's where you come in. I need your help to come up with the perfect nickname for Timothy (I'm even willing to change his first name if it works better with the nickname.) Timothy is one of my secondary characters who has a pivotal role and who is simply clamoring for a bit of the spotlight. He's 28 and has spent the past six months working in Africa as a logistician for several refugee camps--which means he takes care of the logistics of getting the refugee camps up and keeping them running. He's smart and funny, so no wimpy names for this guy. He's also athletic and loves the outdoors.

What's in it for you? The author of the name I pick will win this fun gift pack that includes my three book cozy mystery series, my romantic suspense Final Deposit, and a few goodies from the heart of Africa. And as a bonus, I'll mention you in my next book, Blood Covenant!

You can leave as many suggestions as you'd like below in the comments. I'll choose a name right after the new year and post the winner!



Friday, December 11, 2009

We arrived in South Africa last night, for what I hope will be our last trip for many months! It's been a hectic time getting Luiz and Fernanda's house ready as nothing is ever move in ready. We also weren't able to find a furnished house which is why we are here now, getting needed supplies for their house.

Despite the mountain of red tape and logistics we've had to deal with the past two weeks, we've been amazed at how God continues to move in the lives of our new Christians as we strive to disciple them to follow God. About a week ago, eight families lost their homes to a fire in our community. Many people live in reed huts, so you can imagine how fast a fire can spread. They lost everything. Several of the christians went to the families to pray with them and see what the church could do to help. David shared with them a story from the Bible, and they were so moved by the visit that they asked us to come back and teach them more. Praise God for opening yet another door. And we're excited for these opportunities in our community that allows us to not only help people physically, but spiritually as well.

This week, many of the kids from the English club and David's home church will be working to rebuild their houses and teaching them more about God. Several of our Christians were moved to tears over the experience and are giving of what they have to help these families. It is so exciting to us to see God use a horrible situation and bring good and growth out of it.

On another note, be sure and stop by soon as I will announce another fun giveaway the beginning of next week!



Monday, December 07, 2009

We arrived home last week from our trip to Maputo to no internet. We still don't have any internet, so I've found time to stop by an internet cafe to see if I can download email. Still not sure when they will be able to fix our internet because it is an issue with the line. God continues to teach us patience! :-)

In the meantime, we are staying busy getting Luiz and Fernanda settled into their house. Like with most things, the process is taking much longer than expected, but they hope to be moved in by the end of the week. There will still be lots of things to be fixed, but this is part of the transition. Moving is never easy.

The kids are now full swing into their new school year and we are all getting the hang of the new system. I've also passed the halfway mark of my latest deadline for book two in my Zondervan series and am excited about how it is turning out! So my world currently revolves around being a hostess, school teacher, and writer with a few other odd jobs thrown in along the way. LOL Now if I just had a few more hours thrown into the day, I might actually be able to keep up with everything!

Good news regarding Allen. He is in the process of being weaned off the ventilator and is no longer sedated. He needs to gain his strength back, but we praise God and are excited to see the miracle God is doing in his life. Please pray for wisdom for the family and for the doctors as they still have many decisions of what is best for him and his continued care during this time. God is so good and we rejoice with the family that God is restoring his life!

I have an inbox full of messages, so if you haven't heard back from me, know that I'm very behind and will try to get back to you soon!



Tuesday, December 01, 2009

English Club

Group from the English Club

As parents, we spent years teaching our children how to be independent. We start with simple tasks like having them get dressed on their own, clean their rooms, and feed the dog.

The same is true with discipleship. It's important that while we teach new believers and disciple them, we don't want to do everything for them so they can grow to be independent in their faith. Which is why it was so exciting for us to return from the States and to see how they had gone forward with the work and initiated going out and serving people.

Our English Club, started this summer as a result of the English camp led by one of the groups from Texas. The group has been meeting two times a week with Scott and David as they continue to disciple the new believers from this camp. While we were gone, they took the initiative to start going to the hospital to pray for the sick after their Bible studies and after church on Sunday.

They are now known at the hospital as "the people who pray." They sit on the beds beside the patients, pray with them, connect with them, and show God's love to them. This week, they were even able to visit one of the families in their homes.

They have also seen God's miracles take place to the point where the staff asks them to go to certain people who need healing. There is a passion and excitement among the students as they continue to grow in their faith and share it with others. On Friday afternoon before going into the hospital, they shared that for them, to go and pray for the sick and serving people was the REAL meaning of being the church, not going to a building as most people believe.

And God has begun answering their prayers through miracles. A young girl, who had been bedridden for six months and told she would never walk again, was up walking with a walker on their next visit, and on the following visit had been discharged from the hospital.

And their faith continues to grow.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kittens and puppies and bunnies, oh my!

For those of you in the States who have just finished Thanksgiving, I hope you're having a wonderful weekend filled with turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. (Save some for me, will you?) We've had a busy week of trying to settle in and stay as cool as possible. While I'm excited to be back, part of me wonders how I'm going to survive the next three months of heat, because let me tell you, it's HOT here!

We arrived home Tuesday night to no water, but thankfully we were able to get someone to fix things by Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, the city has been putting in new pipes, which is wonderful, but "missed" quite a few houses in the process.

Unpacking has been quite a job. Not only had we not completely finished moving in when I left for the states, the house we rented for Luis and Fernanda is still being lived in by the previous tenants. They are supposed to move out tomorrow, but we will see. I know Luis and Fernanda will be excited to start moving into their own place as soon as possible. We're also storing a lot of furniture and supplies for their new house, so I'm looking forward to converting the garage into a school room once they are settled. We are so excited to have them here and look forward to working with them in the weeks and months to come.

They, along with Scott have already jumped into ministry. I'll be posting photos in the next few days and share with you some wonderful things that happened while we were gone.

Until then, enjoy the photos of our extended family. It will be time soon to find home for all the kittens and puppies, but we are enjoying them in the meantime.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Playing Chicken

After almost hours of driving, we finally made it home. The scariest part was playing chicken with semi-trucks coming toward us on the torn up rode with only one potholed lane, and a shoulder that was as rough as the potholes. (video clip below) The best part, according to the kids, was the new gas station with sparkling clean bathrooms and finding Guarana, their favorite soft drink from Brazil.

The kids could hardly wait to get home as puppies, kitties and rabbits were waiting for them. The puppies, as you can see, are absolutely adorable. We hadn’t even seen photos of them, so it was fun to meet them for the first time. The kittens were a bit less sociable as I can attest to with scars on my hands from trying to pick up one. It will take a couple days to tame them, but until then, they have taken over my living room. (I admit, though, they are cute!)

We also came home to meet David and Emily’s little Scott. What a sweetheart. The only bad thing was one, the heat, which was expected (even at ten o’clock at night) and two, the house has been without water for a week. It’s only our house, so Scott and Luis are filling up buckets from the neighbors.

Tomorrow will be another busy day as we begin to get Luis and Fernanda settled in their new house. It’s such a huge blessing to have them here! And while I'm a bit overwhelmed as to just how much has to be done, including getting our water working, and unpacking, finishing a book, and starting another school year, we're so excited to see what God has planned in the days and weeks ahead!

I'm ready to crash, so night all!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Winner!

Let me congratulate Emma who won a copy of the Bartered Bride! Thanks so much to all of you who participated in this fun contest!

We will hit the road early in the morning to head back to Mozambique as we weren't required to leave our passports with immigration. This is a big answer to prayer as we weren't sure how long we needed to stay. We will be back in SA soon to finish up the process and take care of some other things, but we are thankful to be heading home.

Please continue your prayers for Allen. He's had a couple good days, but the situation is still very serious. We are leaving it in God's hand and praying for wisdom for the doctors and peace for the family during this difficult time.

It's late here and I still have packing to do and a 12+ hour day ahead of us. Need to try and get some sleep tonight so I'll keep this post short and sweet. :-)



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yummy toffee giveaway winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who left a comment on my blog with yummy recipe ideas for the coming holiday season!

Congratulations to Joyful, who won my November contest! I'll be sending her a 1/2 pound of toffee, three holiday recipe books, and a copy of Montana Mistletoe. For those of you who are still waiting to win, be sure and stop by the beginning of next month when I announce another fun contest ... straight from the heart of Africa!

Many of you have asked me when Blood Ransom will be released. I just received the final cover image and the book will be going to print soon. It will be officially released in early spring, but you can pre order it here.

Thank you so much to all of you who are continuing to pray for Allen and his family. The family appreciates it so much.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home ... Almost


After a long flight followed by a short overnight stay in Joburg, we're now up in Tzaneen in northern South Africa with our new Brazilian teammates! It's so good to be back on the African soil even though we're not technically "home." One of the biggest surprises here has been the weather! We left a chilly Tulsa on Tuesday expecting warm, late spring weather when we landed in SA. Instead, it's chilly and rainy!

We'll be here for the next few days as we do all the paperwork to renew our residency visas. We started out out day at the doctor to get a clean bill of health along with Xrays--to ensure we don't have TB. Then onto the police station where I was finger printed--to ensure I'm not a criminal. :-) All this along with grocery shopping, a visit to the pharmacy, post office, and organizing school books and suitcases--I'm sure I've missed something. So yes, I'm tired!

One thing we brought with us was the kids new home schooling books and DVD's, but hadn't had a chance to look at them yet. The kids are so excited and begged to start school today. Now that's something a mom loves to hear. So we officially start the new school year on Monday and we are all very excited. We also decided that we will convert our single garage into a school room now that one of the couples are here from Brazil, and we won't have to store their furniture any more. Since I didn't think we'd have a space for school other than the dining room table, this will be a huge blessing.


I have great news from Allen's family. Yesterday, Allen’s vitals started to improve for the first time since he was admitted to the hospital. The ventilator is now only pushing 50% oxygen vs. 100% and at a lower pressure. We know that there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, but we rejoice at this victory as it appears the pneumonia has been beaten back. More to follow as the doctors make their morning rounds.


Lastly, I'll be drawing the winner for the yummy toffee gift basket tomorrow, so you still have a little bit of time to sign up! I've had several people have told me that they are unable to leave comments. Know that I'm going to try and figure out what the problem is.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leavin' on a jet plane ...

As I sit at my sister's kitchen table (after staying up talking way too late :-)) our hearts are full and ready to return home. God has done so many amazing things on a trip that wasn't even supposed to happen.

We're grateful to so many people for making our stay such a blessing. The wonderful people at Sugar Creek and their awesome youth group and staff, our new friends at Katy who we now feel as if we've known forever, our incredible board, and all the friends and family we were blessed to see along the way. Thank you to each one of you who loaned us cars, took us out to eat, loved on our children, gave us a date night, and encouraged our hearts through prayer, phone calls, emails, and FB and blog comments. :-) We love you all!

We continue to lift up Allen in our prayers, and while it's hard to leave him and Janelle at this point, we know that Allen would want us back in Africa continuing the work that he's given over forty years of his life to. I've been humbled by your prayers and words of encouragement as we've walked with them through this difficult journey.

In the end, we look ahead to the coming year with great joy that God is going to do more than we ask or imagine. To Him be the glory!



Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Giveaway: Erica Vetsch

While I travel home (YEAH!) I thought I'd leave you all with a fun book giveaway. My first historical collection was with Heartsong Presents, so I'm always happy to tell you about books from other Heartsong authors. Today, I'd like to welcome Erica Vetsch!

Lisa: Tell us a little about yourself, Erica.

Erica: Hi, Lisa. Thank you for having me here at Heart of Africa blog. I’m a home schooling mother of two teenagers, married to my beloved husband Peter, and I spend my days writing, reading, teaching, and doing the bookkeeping for our family business. I’ve been a librarian, a receptionist, a high school history teacher, and a McDonald’s burger-babe. By far, my favorite jobs are being a homeschool mom and an author.

Lisa: How long have you been writing, and how many books do you have published?

Erica: I started writing for publication in the fall of 2004. The Bartered Bride is my debut novel, and I have five more coming out between now and November, 2010.

Lisa: Congratulations! Tell me about the book you’re featuring today.

Erica: The Bartered Bride is an historical romance set in 1905 Duluth, MN. Two powerful families enter into an agreement to marry off their children in order to consolidate their fortunes and gain control of the shipping industry of Duluth. Both Jonathan and Melissa want out of the arrangement, and each is keeping a secret from the other. When the secrets are revealed, they must decide if they will allow the truth to draw them together or force them apart forever.

Lisa: What made you want to write this story?

Erica: I read the true story of The Mataafa, a ship that wrecked just outside Duluth Harbor during a terrible storm in the fall of 1905. The descriptions fired my imagination and the story came to life.

Lisa: What research did you have to do for this book?

Erica: I visited several places in and around Duluth, including the Lake Superior Maritime Museum, as well as the Minnesota State Historical Society Library in St. Paul. I read several books on the subject of the Mataafa, the history of Duluth, and the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. I really enjoy research, and eventually I have to call a halt to it and write the book.

Lisa: What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Erica: Definitely the research.

Lisa: And the hardest?

Erica: Keeping the story within the word count guidelines. The publisher is strict about the length of the stories they print.

Lisa: That can be tough. What are you working on now or going to write next?

Erica: I’m currently working on my sixth novel, due to come out about a year from now.

Lisa: What are you currently reading?

Erica: I’m working on research for a new series set in 1860’s Kansas at Fort Larned. I’m reading diaries and memoirs of military wives during the Indian Wars. Fascinating stuff.

Lisa: Tell us something fun about yourself that readers may not know.

Erica: I have a cat that I really love. When I got her, I thought and thought about what to name her. I had lots of names picked out from literature. Characters, authors, even historical figures. And I picked up the kitten and nuzzled her head and whispered, “You’re such a cute little Pookie.” And it stuck. My literary cat rejoices in the name of Pookie.


Duluth, Minnesota in 1905 boasts more millionaires than any other U.S. city. Tycoon Abraham Kennebrae intends to marry his grandsons off to three of the wealthiest heiresses in town and allow Kennebrae Shipping to gain control of Duluth Harbor.

Tempests rage, in the board room, the ball room, and on treacherous Lake Superior. Will hearts and helms survive? Will God prove Himself sovereign over wind, waves, and weddings?

Jonathan Kennebrae, oldest of the three Kennebrae brothers, finds himself backed into a corner. Marry heiress Melissa Brooke or lose his own considerable inheritance. Can he find a legitimate reason to avoid the wedding and still keep his fortune? But as the wedding day approaches, does he want to escape?

Melissa Brooke, only heir to her father’s empire, is bartered by her parents into a marriage contract to a man she’s never met. Can she trust him with her deepest secret? Can she trust him with her heart?

Link to Order The Book:

call (740) 922-7280 to order directly from the publisher.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book! I'll draw a winner on the 23rd (if I have internet :-))

Thanks for stopping by!


Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. US ADDRESSES ONLY PLEASE

Friday, November 13, 2009

Urgent prayer update

I just spoke to Janelle, Scott's aunt who asked me to post an update on Allen. He was just admitted into ICU with a serious lung infection and the next few hours and days are critical. We ask for your prayers that God will heal him and bless him with many more years with his family and doing the work he loves. Allen and Janelle have spent their lives in Africa serving God and have been a tremendous blessing to so many. Thank you to all of you who have continued to lift them up to the Father during this difficult journey they are on.

Scott and I will be at a board meeting for African Outreach Ministries this weekend, and then fly out on Tuesday to return home to Africa. Our time here has been blessed and we are grateful for the time we were able to spend with Allen and Janelle and so many of our friends and family,



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update on Allen

Here is the latest update on Allen from Janelle. Thank you so much for keeping him in your prayers!

Dear friends and loved ones, those who support us in prayer.

I would like to give you some specific things to pray for with Allen. We are here in Wheaton with the children and Allen has done a lot of resting. But there are some things that have begun to give problems in his recovery from the radiation.

1. The fatigue has deepened as we have been here "resting". He has trouble climbing stairs, even just dressing and preparing for the day. Just these types of simple things leave him breathless and exhausted. Please pray that this will lift and he will regain his strength.

2. As a result of his fatigue, he has been breathing very shallowly. Now his chest has begun to hurt him and we fear that part of his lungs are collapsing because of lack of use. Please pray that he will have the strength to inflate his lungs and that health will return.

3. He also is having much trouble with his legs. They go into periods of cramping and it is very painful. This is particularly when he is asleep, which disturbs his sleep an can leave him tired from lack of sleep, as well as the fatigue.

But praise God:

1. He began having a problem with double synapses during the last week of radiation, where the brain would record things again, as though they happened twice of three times. But they had only happened once. Just in the last several days, this has really improved. We believe it is God's hand on the swelling of the brain and bringing down the irritation. We rejoice to see this getting better. Praise God for the improvement, that ask God that it will continue to improve.

Thank you again for all your prayers and expressions of love and concern. We praise God for each one of you who pray for us. God has heard your prayers - that's why I wanted you to pray about these specific things!

May the Lord shine his face on each of you today (and tomorrow and the next day!). :)

Janelle (and Allen)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Orphan Sunday

There's a sweet little girl I know. She's nine years old with big brown eyes and a smile that will melt your heart. She loves learning, and even though she's missed quite a bit of school because of illness, she works hard to keep up with her studies. It's been tough, for her though, because the country's political situation is turbulent and schools have been closed off and on the past two years. When she's not in school, she has an older sister and they love playing together.

Two years ago, her father took another wife. Not too long after that, the new wife, and her father died, leaving her mother and the two girls alone. Now her mother's health is failing, and the future is uncertain.

Around the world, hundreds of people are using today as a moment to highlight the plight of orphans in the world. Because this is such a vital ministry, I wanted to take today to share one way you can get involved. The mission group we work with, African Outreach Ministries, has recognized the needs of these beautiful children and in partnership with prayer warriors, supporters, and sponsors, are currently working with over 300 at risk children in southern Africa. Instead of placing these children in an orphanage, they live with extended family and church members and receive help with food, school fees, and medicine as well as spiritual and emotional counseling.


In the Western Province of Zambia within AOM churches, over 160 “children at risk” receive care and support from AOM. School fees are paid, school uniforms and shoes are purchased and the families of these children are supported emotionally and spiritually within the churches. AOM’s Zambian missionary, Grace Mulyata, oversees this work.


AOM’s orphan ministry arm in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is Themba Le’Ntandane (Hope for the Orphan). The ministry of Themba is directed toward destitute children who have lost one of more of their parents. Themba helps these children and their caregivers by providing school fees and uniforms, securing medical care for both children and caregivers, and by providing spiritual and emotional nurture for the family. Because of food shortages in the country, AOM has also been providing food for the children the past two years through the generous donations of people like you. Themba Le’Ntandane is supported by sponsorship programs, both within churches and through individuals.

If you're interested in sponsoring a child, or learning more about the children, please contact Janelle Avery by email.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to
keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

May our love for these beautiful children reach far beyond today!


Friday, November 06, 2009

Holiday Giveaway!

I’ve managed to avoid the swine flu, but ended up at the doctor anyway this week with what the doctor diagnosed as a “very bad infection.” Like I didn’t know! ☺ In the end, I feel as if I’ve lost a week, but I am gaining back my strength, and now feel almost 100% better.

With the holidays around the corner, I have an irresistible contest for this month! (Remember the chocolate hint?) My sister-in-law has started CK Creations where she makes and sells some of the best toffee you’ve ever tasted. So this month, I’m giving away a ½ pound of CK Creations along with a copy of my Montana Mistletoe and three holiday cookbooks! For the toffee, you can choose between Milk, Dark, White, and Peanut Butter, or a sampler box with all four flavors!

For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below! For those signed up to receive my yahoo newsletter, you'll be automatically entered if you qualify. (North America mailing addresses only please for this contest.)

I’d love to hear from you, too. What’s your favorite homemade holiday treat? Leave a comment below and share! Recipes welcome! I'll draw a winner on November 16th!

For additional chances to win a couple great books, visit a new blog I’m a part of that is showcasing fiction from all over the world. This week, we’re giving a way a copy of Scared, by Tom Davis, and The Gentlemen’s Conspiracy by Nick Daniels. You won’t want to miss either one of these fantastic releases. Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win.

And lastly, if you’re looking for the perfect gift to send to friends and family, order your own Almond Toffee by CK Creations. Email Cheryl here. It’s the perfect holiday (and anytime) gift!



Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. North America mailing addresses only.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life in Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

Keep your eyes focused on Him today!

Lisa Harris

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunset in Swaziland

Someone reminded me today that I hadn't updated for a few days, so I thought I write a quick post. Things have been hectic here as I try to keep up with school, keep the kids on a semi-normal schedule, and do all the "extra" things we need to do. The kids are doing well and are enjoying making new friends.

One of the extra things was my first live radio interview today. It turned out to be a lot of fun and not near as scary as I expected. :-) I'll post a link if they put the interview in an archive.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Allen. He finished the last of his chemo and radiation today. The doctors expected him to be flat on his back during this last week, and yet once again, God stepped in and he's been up and around, and doing well. They have three weeks of rest with family, before returning to Houston to reevaluate what the next step is. Please continue keeping him in your prayers in the coming week!

Lastly, I'll be holding another fun contest (think chocolate) the beginning of November, so drop back soon!



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not of this world

I’ve mentioned in previous posts, how coming back to the US is always a bit of a shock to my system as I step from one world into another. And in a sense, I’ve realized that I really don’t quite fit in completely in either setting.

In Africa, life goes by slower. I shop in the open market, worship on Sunday morning beneath breezy palm trees, and work hard to communicate in a foreign language.

Here in the US, life seems to rush by because of people’s busy pace. Stores are huge and packed with everything imaginable, and while I speak the language, I’m often clueless about various cultural things like TV shows, movies, and music.

This morning I was reading Psalm 91 and was reminded of one constant. No matter where I live in this world, if I make the Most High my dwelling place, He will be my refuge. In this chapter, the Psalmist pens some incredible words about how to find rest in the world we live in.

*He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

*He is my refuge and my fortress.

*He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.

*He will call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I show him my salvation.

Wow! Trouble is everywhere, no matter where we live, but so is our Heavenly Father!

What about you? No matter who you are or where you live, you will face situations that will drag you out of your comfort zone, challenge you, and at times, bring you to your knees. Be reminded today that whatever earthly situation you are facing, dwell in His shelter and He will be your refuge and fortress for the days to come.



Friday, October 16, 2009

And the winner is...

Before I announce the winner, I have to say I was thrilled by the response to my latest giveaway and loved reading your great beauty tips. Thanks for sharing!

I used to draw the winner to keep things fair and square, so drumroll now please...

The winner of the Swazi Secret gift basket is Muttlets1mom!

Congratulations! Please contact me at with your snail mail address.

If you didn't win, please stop by my blog again soon as I'll be holding monthly giveaways for the next few months including my yearly Taste of Africa Basket, and a Christmas surprise you won't want to miss!

Here are your Beauty Tips:

1. My tip is to drink alot of water and always use moisturizer w/sunscreen

2. Drink lot's of pure water and stay active! Oh and deal quickly with stress!

3. Best beauty tip is to drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest, limit sun exposure and use a good sunscreen.

4. Beauty tip: never use soap to cleanse your face. Way to drying. I use Aveeno foaming face cleanser with feverfew, which is good for my face.-Carmen

5. My favourite beauty tip for shiny, strong, and overall gorgeous hair is to dampen it slightly with warm water, then to massage a bit of olive oil into it right before bed, braid it, put a towel over your pillow and sleep like that, wash it out thoroughly the next morning.-Alison

6. My natural beauty secret is to use olive oil as a make-up remover.

7. I work out an hour a day and try to eat healthy.

8. A natural beauty secret I use is resting cool cucumber slices on my erases the dark circles and sometimes even removes my headaches!-Lora

9. I have used olive oil and almond oil to slather my body in after bathing! My body soaks it up in no time!-Annie

10. I spritz witch hazel on pimples-Megan

11. My favorite natural beauty remedy is to make a face and body scub made out of olive oil, sugar, and aloe vera. It's really moisturizing, and it clears up blemishes as well. -Janette

12. 1)Don't sun tan--nothing ages your skin more.
2)Avoid using harsh soaps and chemicals on your face, and lastly,
3)Look at your mom, grandma, and aunts. If you come from a good-skin gene pool, the chances are you'll have great skin too (if you don't abuse your skin).-Janice

13. My skin really improved when i started using oil (jojoba) or shea butter to moisturize.-Mim

14. A natural beauty tip that I follow is too drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin. -Lee



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Settling In

Springtime in Africa. A photo from our garden.

After a difficult time getting to Houston from Tulsa (We were 29 hours late due to airline issues!) we are settled into our new, temporary housing. We've spent the past few days connecting with those involved in our ministry here in Houston as well as fellowship and prayer with Allen and Janelle. Many of you have told me how you are praying for Allen and we appreciate your prayers so much! God truly is doing miracles in his life. I've posted the latest update below.

Remember to leave a comment here for a chance to win the beauty collection from Swazi Secrets! I'll draw the winner tomorrow! And watch for another fun contest next month from the Heart of Africa!

"Dear Loved Ones and Friends!

We have now finished another week of our journey and, today, Allen finished 3 1/2 weeks of chemo and radiation. There is only one thing we can say, and we want to say it again and again. -- God is good!!

We last wrote that Allen had turned a corner and was getting better, but I don't think we really appreciated how much that was due to God's hand directly doing the turning!! Allen continues to get better every day. He is stronger, out walking daily, doing exercises, going shopping with me, he is more spacially oriented, his short term memory is back, he is alert and connected with life. He sits on the computer and I sometimes have to remind him what time of night it is!! :) And we know with certainty that it is God who has made this happen.

We were talking to the doctor this week and were discussing how much better he is. She said that she could see that he was a totally different person than the one she met when treatments started. She said that, yes, the treatments were having their effect, but that really, the improvements were coming "from above" (as she puts it). Also she said that they found that short term memory could return only after the 6 week treatments were complete and then after some time. She was absolutely amazed at the tremendous improvements he has made, and she expressed that to us.

We know it is God who has turned the tide for Allen. It is God who has decided that Allen should live and not die! We want to say that all the glory is His and we are humbled and so abundantly blessed by His kindness and goodness to us.

We are still on this journey, we haven't seen the end yet. But we do know that God is with us every step of the way, because we have seen His sign. We again thank each of you for your many many prayers! We ask you to continue. The journey continues, day after day. But, praise God, we are living in the sunshine of His light, and not in the shadow of death!! He has been so very good to us, and we thank you again for your prayers. You have blessed us and sustained us as we have moved forward. May you be blessed!!!"

Thanks for your prayers,


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Things we love...

...about visiting the US.

1. Public Restrooms that have toilet paper (and don't smell)
2. Unlimited fountain drinks
3. I don't have to make my own maple syrup (I did offer, sis)
4. All you can eat buffets
5. Mexican food (Texas here we come!)
6. Roads with no (or very few) potholes
7. Fall colors
8. Cousins, cousins, and more cousins (And grandparents, of course!)
9. Customer service that actually exists
10. And in spite of 1-9, hearing my kids tell me they miss Africa (And so do I!)

Don't forget to leave a comment on my last post for a chance to win a wonderful beauty basket from Swaziland!



Saturday, October 03, 2009

It's giveaway time!

In anticipation of Blood Ransom’s release from Zondervan in March, (and simply to keep things fun!) I’ll be hosting a number of monthly giveaways with all kinds of cool things, straight from the heart of Africa!

To kick things off, I’ll be giving away with a collection of beauty products from Swazi Secrets! This gift pack contains a range of natural oils and cosmetics produced by a not for profit company set up to empower rural Swazi women. Each product is based on oil produced from the kernels of the Marula tree.
(You can find out more about their products here)

This month’s giveaway contains handmade Marula soap, body lotion, Marula oil (to be used as a moisturizer) and lip balm. The winner will also receive a copy of Massachusetts Brides, my historical romance collection from Barbour.

For a chance to win, leave a comment on my blog with a way to contact you. And if you have a natural beauty secret you use, please share it with us as well!

Want more chances to win? For this contest, those signed up to receive my newsletter who meet the contest rules (You can sign up here or through the link on my blog) will be automatically entered , so leaving a comment on my blog will give you a second chance!

Look for many more opportunities to win neat gifts items from Africa like jewelry, chocolate, photos, and books, including my yearly Taste of Africa gift package in December!

I'll draw a winner on October 15th. Spread the word!


Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Winners must live in North America.

Friday, October 02, 2009

More Rejoicing!

Here's a message from Scott.

"Today at the English Club, Ernesto said he wanted to be baptized today when he learned others were yesterday. Then Lionel ask why he couldn't too. So, after the study, we went down to the water and baptized them.

Sure love these guys! God is doing some wonderful things in their lives. Just wanted to share, Scott"

Scott and the kids leave tomorrow to pick up some things at Allen and Janelle's in SA, then onto the airport to fly out on Sunday. Please keep them in your prayers, along with David and Emily who will be keeping up the studies while we are gone.



English Club

Ernesto and Lionel with Scott

Bay at sunset

Little Scott (I just had to include another photo)

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Today Scott had 3 baptisms, two of which were from the English camp from this summer. Isaias and Ivanildo. Innocencia is a neighbor and friend of David and Emily. It was a wonderful day!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update from Life in the States

It's been a busy couple weeks since my arrival back in the States, filled with emotional ups and downs, but through it all, I've been amazed (though I shouldn't be!) of how faithful God is.

One of my main reasons for returning this year was for my oldest to meet his birth mom for the first time. (Thus the reason for our road trip.) God worked through that situation this past weekend and it ended up being a very positive step in his life that I'm so thankful for. Many of you who knew about the situation have lifted up prayers on our behalf and I'm so grateful for your support through this.

Many of you have also been praying for my husband's uncle and our precious co-worker. Allen and Janelle are like parents to us and grandparents to our kids, so this has been an emotional time for all of us. Below is the latest update from the family regarding Allen's health. We continue to pray for God's complete healing in his life! Because of this situation, we have decided to extend out stay and Scott (who was already planning to come for meetings in November) was able to change his tickets and return next week with the other two children so we can spend some time with the family and take care of some things together.

From Janelle: "Allen started the chemotherapy and radiation a week and a half ago. He has had only 8 treatments and he is remarkably better! It is amazing to see the difference and it absolutely thrills my heart to see my wonderful husband return. We are so very very thankful!! We continue to ask you to pray that his brain won't swell and that the treatments will continue to kill every cancer cell in his brain. We have heard of several people who have survived this cancer and we are praying that God will grant that blessing to Allen. God is able to do this! We praise God for his goodness, and we ask you to continue to stand with us in prayer, thanking God for his goodness and asking him for complete healing!"

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Eph 3:20-21



Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm a. . .grandma?

Okay, maybe not a grandma, but David and Emily are like our children, and definitely a part of the family. I can't wait to hold their new blessing named . . .Scott.

To add to the baby fun, our sweet kitty, Patches, had four kittens in one of my pots! She's a great mom and Mariah is loving the experience.