Saturday, July 06, 2019

The story behind the story: Deadly Intentions

Three years ago, the unthinkable happened. Three armed men walked into our house and held us at gunpoint. Things quickly escalated and in a matter of minutes, my entire, safe world changed forever. They tied up myself, my husband and my daughter—gave me two black eyes and a mild concussion in the process—and robbed us, including my wedding ring off my finger.

It’s crazy how I can remember so many details from that night, but there is one that stands out. I managed to untie myself and help our daughter get free, but as I ran through the house, I couldn’t find my husband who’d been drug into another room. I started to panic, but was dizzy from repeated blows to the head and struggling to think straight. They’d told us they were going to take our vehicle, so all I could think of was that they must have taken him with them. I quickly locked the security gates in case the men decided to return, and then remember sliding down against the wall and onto the floor in the hallway. It’s the one detail I will never forget. I knew at the point my husband was dead.

That moment will be impressed in my mind forever. 

Even when I found out he was alive, and that instead he’d managed to escape, run for help, and save us by scaring away the men, I still couldn’t shake that moment. The response from friends and family over the following days and weeks was overwhelming, and so were the dozens of ways in which we realized God had answered our prayers in a situation that could have ended very differently. 

But what if it had ended differently? 

I write romantic suspense. I write about situations like this. Situations that force my characters to wrestle with the evil in the world and that reality that we live in a fallen world. Stories where God’s redemption and grace shine through. But this wasn’t a book where I could guarantee a happy ending. And I couldn’t shake that moment when I’d been so convinced my husband was dead.

I spent the next year or so asking myself how I would have responded if they really had killed my husband. And while I’m not sure why, it was a question I had to ask. And it was a question I had to write about. How would his death have changed me? And even more importantly, would his death have shattered my faith? As crazy as it might seem, that’s the question I decided to answer in my latest book, Deadly Intentions, and why this book is so personal. I needed to know what would happen if things didn’t end happily-ever-after.

Sometimes the trauma sometimes still comes to the forefront of my mind, but God has continued to show me His faithfulness and His goodness. I know that because I’ve seen the good that He continues to bring out of this very difficult situation. I’ve felt a strength and determination grow and seek God in a deeper level, that yes, still questions and falters at times, but also manages to thrive. 

Deadly Intentions doesn’t necessarily wrap up everything in a pretty bow—because it couldn’t. Some hurts never go away—but that is true in life as well. I do promise, though, that it has a happy and satisfying ending despite the characters wrestling through the same questions I have faced.

Deadly Intentions releases August 6th and is available for pre-order now.

Amazon                      Barnes & Noble    

Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victim's husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.

Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn's theory, Josh soon realizes that the attack that took his wife's life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn's team--and what their end game is--before it's too late.

In this nail-biting thriller, award-winning author Lisa Harris will have you believing that there's no such thing as random.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tragedy Surrounding Us

It seems like the news cycle is constantly reporting yet another tragedy. And recently, several have hit home. Last week we’d just gotten home from church, when one of the brothers told me that a flight from Ethiopia to Nairobi—a route we often take—had crashed. There were no survivors. Then this last weekend, a cyclone hit north of us. While we experienced the brutal force of a cyclone two years ago where we live, this time it hit a highly populated city and the death toll continues to rise. 

These are just two of many tragedies that have happened recently.

My daughter recently wrote something about suffering and God’s redemption recently that resonated with me. I hope it encourages you today to not only strengthen your trust in Him, but also as a reminder for us to make a difference in the lives of those struggling around us today.

The other day, my mom forwarded me daily devotional by an author named Laura Story. A third of the way down the page were two sentences she highlighted in bold. It read, “God doesn’t promise our stories will make sense in and of themselves. But He does promise they will find their greater purpose in light of His greater story of redemption.”

Reading this reminded me of Job. Throughout the book of Job, we see him wanting an audience with God. He wanted God to directly answer his questions to why he was suffering. But instead of answering Job’s question, God talked about all of His wonderful and powerful acts, displayed through everything He has made. Then God reminded Job that no human has the power to do match that. And Job remained in the dark regarding why he was suffering, and why God allowed it. But we soon see that God wanted Job to recognize his inability to always understand—his human limits—because we are finite beings. In the end, it says that God restored what was lost and gave back to him twice than what he had before. (Job 42:10).

The fact that God has the power to not only restore what Job lost, but replenish him with even more than he asked for is incredible. God demonstrates his goodness, his power, love, and his faithfulness to those who trust and fear Him. 

The story of Job gives me hope. Unlike Job (Job 1), I am not a “blameless and upright.”. I am a sinner in need of repentance, mercy, and undeserved grace, because I have messed up. But still the story of Job gives me hope in times where I don’t understand why God is allowing my suffering. I have asked the Lord to make me a vessel for His glory and His kingdom come, but when His glory is being played out, sometimes there are things in my life that hinder this. Things he needs to take away. But we often just see and feel the effects of the subtraction. We feel the pain just as Job felt the suffering when he lost everything. Yet he still was somehow able to say “may the name of the Lord be praised.”

What gets me is that in Job, God gave back to Job for fearing Him, trusting him, and being faithful in spite of the horrible pain that took root in Job’s life. I feel often we get inpatient and just feel the pain and suffering and think that it is all in vain. But I know that my pain is not in vain. 

I don’t understand completely why I have had to experience brokenness, pain, hurt, and loss, but I know that it is not in vain. And I believe what it says in Romans 8 when Paul writes, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[b] have been called according to his purpose.” God gives, but He may also take away. And the hardest part of that process is trusting that our pain we feel is not in vain.

It takes faith and strength to say, “you know what God, this hurts and I just want to give up, but I know my pain is not in vain and that you are using it. Your ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and you are the ultimate source of wisdom because I can’t and don’t understand what is going on. 

Just like Job and his friends didn’t and could not understand and find the answer to why God allowed suffering in Job’s life. What I do know that He gives peace through the pain, not only from personal experience, but through numerous mentions throughout scripture that promise peace.

If you read the rest of Isaiah 55:8-, it says: 

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace”

The Lord takes away, yes, but he also gives. Whatever reason we are suffering, we must do our best to keep a biblical perspective on suffering. We must trust Him because He has promised that through trials, He will not forsake us (Psalms 9:10).

Let us be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).