Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I posted a couple weeks ago that I would do a drawing for those who signed my blog until the end of Januray. So, this is your last chance! Also, leave your email so I can contact you if you're the winner.

This contest is for my next book coming out called Rebecca's Heart.


It’s been a hectic weekend with Mariah’s birthday party, Gabriel’s track meet (he got a first place trophy! Yeah!!), plus a deadline for a book. Something struck me this weekend as we sat in the bleachers at Gabriel’s track meet. The meet was held at a government school about forty-five minutes from our house. Even though this was a government school, they opened the day with a scripture, a short devotional and a prayer. I commented to the principal how wonderful this was. He told me just to wait, because it would change. South Africa is about twenty years behind the states in things like this. Abortions are now here, and it won’t belong until they follow suite and forbid prayer in school. I find it frightening when I see what we are sending around the world.

On the positive side, something exciting happened this past week. Our three kids attend a local Christian school, the King's Court, that caters mainly to rural African kids. The leaders of the school see it as a ministry and keep their cost low so as many kids from the surrounding villages as possible can attend and receive a Christian education. In an area seeped in traditional religion, this is so important.

The school is wanting to start a reading room full of Christian (and clean secular) fiction books for their primary and high school. This will not only help their English improve, but also encourage them spiritually as well. But books extremely expensive here, and the school is on a very tight budget. I put out the word on a writers group I’m a part of and was blown away by the response! A couple dozen Christian authors are donating books for the reading center! We have a central place in Houston set up to collect the book and we’ll have them sent over with teams, or individuals who come over to see us. I’m so excited to see some of the good stuff coming over as well!

More later!


Thursday, January 26, 2006


It’s hard to believe that my middle ‘baby’ turns seven today. We celebrated today by taking cupcakes to school for all her friends and teachers. Tomorrow she’s having two friends over for a slumber party and she’s quite excited. This morning, though, she was frustrated about something and decided she’d rather be five. Five year olds, of course, don’t have near as much responsibility as a seven year old in first grade!

We had another very hot day. We went to another little friends birthday party today after school and I was talking to one of the older women about the weather and how I was sure I’d adjust to the heat after a couple of years. She laughed and asked me why in the world I would think that? She’s lived here thirty years and hasn’t adjusted to the heat!

I think what I hate most about the heat is the bugs. Our house is full of moths, flies, long centipedes, flying ants, and dozens of other unidentifiable things. As long as the snakes stay out of our house. . .

What’s been on my mind lately? “God can deliver us by transforming a situation, but more often he delivers by giving us the strength to endure the situation. That way, others are transformed as well as ourselves.” From Open Doors Newsbrief, August 2005



Tuesday, January 24, 2006


If you’ve ever been in a cross cultural situation, then you’ll probably relate to today’s blog. Over and over it seems, we find ourselves having to laugh at different situations because, for whatever reason, we miss things.

For example, when we first arrived in South Africa, the kids had a sports day at school, and we were supposed to bring lunches. So I packed my peanut butter and jam (as they call it in South Africa, as opposed to jelly which is American Jello) sandwiches and threw them in a plastic bag along with some chips and orange slices. What I didn’t realize was, South Africans have the art of picnicking down to an art.

When I got to the field, people were setting up canopies, lawn chairs and BBQ (braii) grills. The smell of grilled meat wafted by me, and I looked down at my sandwiches and found of spot of grass to sit on, (no blanket of course) knowing I had a lot to learn about the culture here.

A similar thing happened to us this weekend. Scott was invited to speak at a missions’ conference for one of the nearby churches. We knew it would be a great time for the whole family to get to know some of the members better. There were a few things, though, that we missed. Like the fact that we were supposed to take food and bedding for the weekend. Thankfully, when we met the people we planned to follow out to the retreat center, we learned about the food and were able to stop by a grocery store. But it’s hard to plan a weekend of meals for five people in fifteen minutes.

At the retreat, everyone one put their food away in the refrigerators. I started to put our food into one, but Scott stopped me and asked if it was a freezer. I shrugged my shoulders. Several others had put their fruits and vegetables inside, so it must be a fridge.

It wasn’t.

The word iceberg lettuce might imply that you can freeze it, but trust me, you can’t.

And then there were the warnings. “Watch out for scorpions in your bed.”

Is that really what I want to hear when I go off to bed?

One of the teens did get bit by a scorpion and the group of kids found a puff adder by the pool and tried to catch it. Nothing like a bit of excitement.

I am thankful for the weekend though, and Scott and I have come to the point where we can laugh over incidences like these. We got to know some wonderful people who are on fire for the Lord and that was such a blessing!

Have a great day!


Friday, January 20, 2006


Yesterday, I shared about our orphan work, which was technically part two. :-) The third thing we focus on here in southern Africa is leadership training. There are literally hundreds of young men, in particular, who feel called by God to start a church, but who have little, if any, Bible training. These people are hungry to know God’s word in depth, so they can in turn plant churches and disciple new Christians and ground them firmly in the Word.

In order to grow a viable, healthy church, we need committed and trained church leaders and evangelists. To do this, we are involved in several specific things.

  1. Continuing to provide training and encouragement to the existing fellowships of churches in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  1. Providing contextualized training and materials for leadership, church and family development. Our materials are now in five African languages.
  1. Training teachers: In South Africa, AOM has launched a program of training qualified ministers from Bible believing churches to teach an extension seminary course called BTCL (Bible Training Center for Leaders). The vision is to see training centers established in all the provinces of South Africa presently without the BTCL program.

Hope this give you more of an idea what we are doing!

We're off to a conference this weekend where Scott will be teaching on church planting.



Thursday, January 19, 2006


It’s always a good day when all three kids come home with smiles on their faces. Today was the beginning of track season, so both Gabriel and Mariah ran during school. Gabriel did well, winning at least one of the races something that doesn’t surprise me at all. For the past two years he competed in the provincial races which would be the US’s equivalent of going to state.

Mariah on the other hand has never enjoyed sports. At last year’s fun day that was filled with parent/child three legged races and other fun events, Mariah sat down on the sidelines and cried, wanting nothing to do with the activities. So, needless to say, I was surprised (and proud) to hear that she came in first place in one of the races today. You just never know. I’ve never pushed her in this area, but now she tells me that she’s looking forward to competing. And I’m looking forward to watching both my kids run.

So far, then, the kids seems to be adjusting fairly well. We’ve had our challenges primarily because the cultural differences are very different. In the end, though, I really believe that the kids will be blessed by their experiences here. They’ve been able to see a world beyond their normal borders. They’ve seen that people can be different, but at the same time have things in common with them. All kids love to play, love balls, and simply to have fun. They’ve seen extreme poverty, learned to give, and learned to love those around them.

One of the things that AOM is doing to help is with our orphan program. The pandemic of AIDS in Africa has produced millions of orphans. In Zimbabwe, AOM is partnering with Scripture Union to assist 120 + orphans with school fees and uniforms, supplemental feeding, obtaining medical care, providing spiritual support through pastoral care, camps and a weekly Bible club. In Zambia, over 60 orphans are currently being assisted. All the orphans are living in their extended families. Because of the great response, starting January 2006, AOM will begin a program where supporters can support individual orphans in our network. We don’t run traditional orphan homes. Instead, all the orphans we work with live with extended families or church member.

More tomorrow,


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Someone asks us the other day what exactly it is that we do here in South Africa, and I thought this might be a great blog topic. African Outreach Ministries (AOM) has always had a threefold purpose.

1. Establishing fellowships of Bible believing churches

2. Leadership training

3. AIDS orphan assistance.

In order to keep it short, I’ll break it up into several days and start with the first one. I’ve been really excited to watch Scott’s passion on not only establishing fellowships of churches like we have been throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe, and now into Malawi, Mozambique, but his dream of a church planting movement among the people we work with. He’s been doing a lot of research, reading, talking with people, as well as first hand work among our churches. Healthy churches reproduce, and the leaders we work with are starting to catch this vision. We’re working to train leaders to look beyond themselves and multiply. This requires Biblically solid and frequent training of these leaders.

Already, Scott has been asked to speak locally to a church this weekend that has the same goal--to reach out and start planting churches to help give them direction. Using tools like the Jesus film, cell groups, and discipleship training classes to ensure that each member is solidly grounded in Christ, each member of the church needs to catch this vision and let it spread.

Scott and I have been reading together David Garrison’s book on how God is redeeming a lost world called Church Planting Movements. What I’ve read between the pages of church movements spreading rapidly through places like Latin America and the Muslim world have brought me to tears. God is doing extraordinary things in our day.

May God enlarge all of our visions to serve Him!


Tuesday, January 17, 2006


New for today. . . I've managed to put a clock on my blog so everyone can see what time it is where we are! We're moving into the hottest month of the year with lots of alternating rain and sunshine. The landscape is beautiful as the rains have made everything green and lush. I'm enjoying the flowers, palms, and tropical feel of the mountainous area. We're also enjoying mangos, avocados, pinapple, grapes, and litchi. A litchi is a small round fruit. If you peal the outer reddish layer you end up with a whitish (slimy) fruit that the kids love. (Can you tell I don't?)

As for the free book drawing. . .Rebecca's Heart will be released in a few weeks, and I'm really excited about this story. From today until February first, everyone who signs my guestbook will have a chance to win a free copy of the historical novel. I'll have the drawing on the last day of the month and give away one free copy. This is book two in my Massachusetts series and follows Michaela's Choice. So, sign up now for the chance to win a free copy!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Our newest addition. . .

Yes, we now have a cat. It wasn’t by choice, really, but necessity. A choice between mice in the house or another pet. You guessed it. I chose the cat! The crazy thing about Max, as we call him, is that he thinks he’s my fourth child. I woke up this weekend and looked over and there was Jayden and the cat sleeping between Scott and I. Just a little too cozy if you ask me.

This cat is simply not the aloof creature that most felines are. He follows us around, cuddles up with the kids while they watch TV, and begs to eat dinner with us. (Forget that dry cat food.)

You have to understand. I’m really not a huge fan of pets, especially pets in my bed. And especially at two in the morning. This is when Max decides its time to play with my foot under the covers or curl up around my face. Scott said I have a choice between locking him up at night (as I would prefer) or letting him do his job and chase the mice out of the house.

Once again, I guess I chose Max. At least we don’t have any mice for the time being.


Friday, January 13, 2006


Our first week of school is over and everyone came home today with smiles on their faces, so I consider that a good thing. J Besides a black eye the first day of school and a trip to the principal’s office the second, I’d say we did pretty well. (Thankfully, from what I can tell, my child was not at fault in either situation.) The kids actually seem happy about going to school, so I will keep praying and giving them over to God.

Speaking of children, we’ve been leading a weekly parenting class in our home based on James Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys material. We’ve been meeting with three other couples and the response has been great. Not only have we enjoyed getting to know these wonderful couples, but we are learning and putting into practice (hopefully) some fantastic Biblical parenting skills.

Dobson’s greatest advise so far? Actively seek your children on a daily basis and spend time with them. It’s not just enough to be in the house or in the same room. As parents we need to be actively engaged in their lives.

My theme verse for the year regarding my children? “”Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

On another note, the most amusing thing around our house lately has been the new addition of Max, or mouse-catching (we hope) cat. More about Max’s tale in my next entry. . .



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Question on books spiritual theme. . .

Jenna asked a really good question in her last comments about how can a murder mystery have a strong spiritual theme. It’s a good question, because I asked the same thing before I decided to try and write for this new line. :-)

How do you combine a good old fashioned murder mystery with a strong spiritual theme? The goal of these books will be not only to entertain, but to remind the audience that God is good. They will show that He is still in control, and that the Bible still holds true today.

Just look at the world around us and you will see all the pain and suffering that people endure everyday, from illness to natural disasters, to poverty, to AIDS. . .The list could go on and on. How can we KNOW that God is still in control when He seems so far away and everything seems to be going wrong in our lives?

Psalm 46 speaks very powerfully on this subject. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Then in verse 11 continues to say, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

No matter what happens around us, God is still in control. And the core of this will be the message of my story.

Have a blessed day!



Not only is it summer here, but it’s also the first day of the new school year. The school term starts in early January and ends in December with four terms. I actually love the year round school and the kids seem to enjoy it as well.

We woke up early this morning to get the kids off to their school that is located about three minutes from our house. They are nervous and excited at the same time, and like every other anxious mom, I’ll be spending my day praying for them!

Right now they are in a private, Christian school and we’ve been very impressed with the staff and the focus of the school. Financially, the school is really struggling because they’ve kept fees at a minimum in order to allow as many kids as possible to be able to attend and receive a Christian education. I’m looking forward to being apart of the Parents Association and becoming active in the school and seeing what we can do to raise money for the school.

I promised more information about my latest sale. Barbour publishing is starting a new subscriber-based cozy mystery book club consisting of thirty-two titles per year. It’s called Spyglass Lane mysteries. If you love cozy mysteries, romance, and a strong spiritual messages, this is the book club to join. The line will open the end of this year. My book, Recipe for Murder, will be among the first of the new line, so I’m quite excited. More details to come.

And with three deadlines on top of me, it’s off to work for now.



Tuesday, January 10, 2006

There’s nothing like a bit of excitement. . .

Last Monday was a rather dull day. Besides the fact that my youngest decided to give the cat a haircut, it was relatively quiet. All that changed at three o’clock in the morning. The province we live in is experiencing a major drought, and we’ve all been praying that the normal heavy rains would come. That’s one reason why Scott’s been working to repair the leaks in our roof before leaving on his ministry trip this week, but I knew there were at least two leaks that hadn’t been fixed.

The storm hit hard in the middle of the night, waking me and the kids with white streaks of lightening and ear-piercing thunder. I hurried around the house to make sure nothing was leaking, but sure enough, there were two spots where water was coming through the roof. I hurriedly laid down towels to catch the drips.

Then the power went off.

In the pitch dark, I made my way to where we keep the flashlight. Dead battery. So much for being prepared for our frequent power outages. Next I rummaged through a drawer and finally found matches to light a candle. Okay, the candle was a good idea, but what I didn’t count on were the kamikaze flying sausage ants. These ants come in droves at night when the rains come, leaving behind piles of wings in the morning. This ant flew into my hair, then turned around to make another run at me. After almost catching the Christmas garland on fire to avoid the ant’s maneuvers, I decided to set the candle down and finish laying out my towels. That’s when I spotted something worse than a sausage ant. I’m not sure of the technical name for this five inch long creature, but it looks like a small land lobster and it’s almost impossible to kill because it’s tough and will fight back.

Shuddering, I snatch up the candle and run into the kitchen. If I can put something over it, then maybe I can catch it and deal with it tomorrow. I rummage in the cupboard and feel a drip on my neck. Another leak. Grabbing a bowl, I decide to quickly deal with the lobster creature then deal with the leak. At least if I immobilize it there would be no chance it coming into my room and crawling into my bed. Bowl in hand, I run back into the living room--but the creature has disappeared. Thunder rumbles through the house and the kids scream. By now, they’re all piled in my bed as the storm hovers overhead. I stand there, debating what to do before I’m attacked by yet another sausage ant. What else can I do, but jump into bed with the kids and hold them tight to calm their fears, determined to forget about the leaks and the sausage ants and the lobster creature. . .

This morning my kitchen is flooded, there’s a sprinkling of ant wings across the floor, but there’s no sign of the lobster creature! Nothing like an exciting start to a new day, is there?



Monday, January 09, 2006


I’ve been off line for the past week, as you might have noticed from my lack of entries. We had a huge storm last Monday night, the night Scott left for a ministry trip to Zambia. So the last week I’ve been dealing with occasional electrical outages, no internet, no land line, dead car battery, leaky roof, two partially flooded rooms, and three kids by myself. I’m sure there was more, but I’m trying to block out the rest. LOL Needless to say, life has been crazy.

Tomorrow I'll post a humourous story from my week that might tickle your funny bone.

Out of about 200 emails I did have a bit of good news. I've just sold another book to Barbour Publishing. It's a cozy mystery for their new book club that will be starting up in 2007. I'll have more details on that later.



Monday, January 02, 2006

Congratulations to my latest book winner!

Donna did a fantastic job translating my silly story last Wednesday and has won a copy of Rebecca’s Heart. This is book two in my historical Massachusetts series and will be released in February. I’ll have it in the mail for you, Donna, as soon as it’s released. Anyone interested can check out the cover at www.heartsongpresents.com. Click on ‘coming next’ on the sidebar and you’ll find my name.

For those of you who are curious as to the answers of my language example, the answers are below as well as a recipe for rusks. And one more thing. I’ve learned not to use my Afrikaans translator on my computer, so my apologies, Donna and anyone else who tried to look up lakker. The correct spelling is lekker. Stop by often for more chances to win a free book in the coming months.

Zebra crossing- a black and white striped cross walk/speed bump

Bakkie- pickup truck

Robot- a traffic light

Tarmac- a paved road

Rooibos- a popular tea in South Africa made from a red bush

Rusks- a crunchy baked good, that you dip in your tea.

Biscuits- cookies

Boot- trunk

Serviette- napkin

Lekker- means nice. Often associated with food

For you tea lovers, here’s a South African favorite. This is a biscotti type cookie you serve with tea or hot chocolate.


2 cups unbleached white flour

2 cups whole wheat bread flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, them pour them into the dry ingredients, and stir until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll it to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles about 2 by 4 inches. Bake the rusks 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet for 25 minutes or until the tops begin to brown. Lay out the rusts on another baking sheet and keep them in a 200 degree oven all day or all night (about 12 hours) to dry. The finished rusks should be dry and hard. Cool and store in an airtight container.

You can also make the following variations.

Oatmeal-Raisin Rusks: Reduce the white flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 2 cups rolled oats and 1/2 cup currants or chopped raisins.

Almond Rusks: Add 1 cup chopped almonds. Leave out the cinnamon.

Peanut Rusks: Add 1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts.

Anise Rusks: Leave out the cinnamon and almond extract and add 2 tsp anise extract.



Sunday, January 01, 2006


It's hard to believe that it's 2006. For me, the past year was one of huge transition. Not only did we make a major move from Joburg into northern South Africa, we spent two months of the year back in the States. Through it all, though, I've seen God's hand work in so many miraculous ways, and I'm exciting to see what this New Year will bring.

We've spent the past few days hosting some friends from Angola. They've been missionaries in that war-torn country for eight years, and God really blessed our time together. One highlight was a day at Kruger National Game Park. Unfortunately, the animals must have all been on Christmas break! We saw a few elephants, tons of buck and zebra, but not much else. We had more activity at home than in the park. Coming home, our guests found a mouse in their room. In trying to catch it, the mouse ran under a heavy piece of furniture. We were out of raid, so used cooking spray to fumigate the mouse out from under the furniture. Crazy, I know, but it worked. We chased it outside and our dogs took over from there.

Needless to say, Scott brought home a kitten yesterday to help take care of our mouse problem. (Scott hates snakes. I HATE mice). The kids are so excited about 'Max' and thankfully he doesn't seem to mind being carried around all the time by one of them. Tonight he's even sleeping in Mariah's doll crib. :-)

Another significant event of the last few days was New Year's Eve. We spent the evening playing game with some of our South African friends. At midnight, we had a communion service and spent time in worship and praying for each other. It was such a moving experience. I felt the presence of God among us as we dedicated this coming year to His service.

I was personally challenged in a number of areas. One of the main things is that I want to become more of a prayer warrier during this coming year, espicially for the work being done throughout southern Africa. The need is so great here, and prayer is a part of our armor as Christians. God has called us to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. . .to be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18) May each of us use this coming year to serve Him with everything that we have.

Don't forget to check back soon! Tomorrow I'll post the winner of my free book from last week's contest and a recipe.

Blessings to each of you in this coming year!