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.