Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The ECHO Project & International World Water Day

Most of us take it for granted. Our morning coffee, the hot shower we took before work, the meal we had last night, the sprinkler system we just turned on in the front yard.

We turn on a tap—hot or cold—and it’s there. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, our water is clean and always available.

But not everyone has access to clean safe water.

• Did you know it is estimated that 30,000 children die each day from water that is contaminated?

• Did you know that 85% of the diseases of African children under the age of five are caused by water-borne illnesses?

• Did you know that twenty percent of the world has difficulty getting access to clean water?

How can you and I make a difference?

March 22 is International World Water Day. It’s a day to focus on the need around the world. It’s a day to make a difference.

The ECHO Project has an urgent need to raise $7500 to complete a water well in the village of Massavana, in Mozambique. While this might seem like a small solution compared to the great need around the world, this well will make a real difference to the several hundred people of this village.

If you are able to help, please make a donation today. We are now set up for on-line donations at www.theECHOproject.org. (Click on Donate) You can pay with your credit card or Pay Pal, or you can mail a check to:

The ECHO Project
327 Sandy Creek Dr.
DeSoto, TX 75115

Thank you for helping us“Speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and seeing that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8

Monday, March 21, 2011

A day in the life...

In the midst of packing, we were excited to celebrate my aunt signing a contract on her house. We drove up into the mountains west of us, went to church, then stopped for lunch at one of the hotels overlooking the vast, green valley. The fog and mist were heavy and it was cool, but it was also great to spend some time away from the house and packing.

I wanted to share a funny story from Scott who is still in Mozambique. He's spent the past few days out in David's village teaching with some of the disciples. Sunday night, he had to drive to the capital in order to pick up some legal papers for our car, so he stayed in one of the local hotels.

Here is his conversation with one of the employees.

Scott: There is no remote for the TV.
Employee: We are sorry, but we are having a problem in this area.

Scott: I also asked for the internet.
Employee: Sorry, it isn't working, we are having a problem in this area.

Later that evening...

Scott: Why is there no hot water in my room?
Employee: We are sorry, but a part broke and we expect the part to arrive tomorrow and will be fixed tomorrow.

So much for a nice hot shower after days in the village as he, of course, will be gone by the time it is fixed.

You just have to laugh.

Be blessed,


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Heart of God

I'm reading through the Bible this year with my kids using The Story from Zondervan and I'm really loving it.

Right now, we've just finished reading about the Israelites dramatic escape from Egypt. Yet all too soon, they have already forgotten God's faithfulness and power.

If you read through the book of Exodus, the Israelites complained. Continuously. Back in Egypt they had pots of meat and all the food they could eat. (Of course, they seemed to forget that they were also slaves being worked to death.) Now they didn't have meat, enough variety, nor was there enough to drink. Their feet were tired, their brows were sweaty, and they wanted out.

All of this complaining came after the ten dramatic plagues against Egypt. After God had orchestrated for the Egyptians to beg them to leave. After God's hand parted the Red Sea so they could escape from the Egyptians. Though every episode, God showed His amazing power again and again.

Of course, it's easy for me to say what I would have done. I wouldn't have ever complained about being thirsty or hungry for meat. I wouldn't have ever begged to go back to Egypt and a life of slavery. I would have been the one who stood up with Joshua and Caleb and said, "Yes, we can beat all these scary giants living in the land we've been promised because God is with us!"


I find it interesting that God allowed the Israelites to get thirsty. He allowed them to crave meat, and sent them into a land filled with huge bounty, but also fierce enemies.


I think He wanted them to feel their needs, yet still trust in God. And I also don't think that it was the fact that they were thirsty that made him angry or even the fact that they went to Moses with their needs. The problem was that they didn't trust God to provide. They didn't believe that the heart of God was full of love for them. Nor did they didn't believe in His power and greatness and His seriousness about obedience. They didn't look back and see all the times that He had recused them. Instead they couldn't look past the problems in front of them.

How many times do I do the very same thing? I worry, fret, and complain, doing things my way instead of turning to Him?

The world we live in is broken. There are people hurting everywhere from the recent tragedy hitting Japan, to world hunger, to broken homes and marriages. We all know that the list could go on and on.

The heart of God wants us to turn completely to Him in every circumstance and trust in His power and leading.

Here's what Jesus said in the book of Matthew. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

God calls us out of this world to a relationship with Him. He calls us to live radically for Him. To trust Him no matter what.

Be blessed,


Monday, March 14, 2011

Heart of Africa giveaway winners...

Thanks so much for everyone who participated in my latest giveaway! I loved reading through your answers about your favorite animals. And thanks to Random.org, I've drawn the winners!

Grand Prize Winner (Framed animal wildlife photos and copies of the Mission Hope series and An Ocean Away): Joanne S.

1st Prize (Copies of Blood Covenant & An Ocean Away): collettakay

Runners up (Choice of Blood Covenant or An Ocean Away): CarlybirdK, dawnkreger, terenn, nomysticalmask

For those of you who didn't win, all these books are available at your local bookstore or on line at places like Amazon and Christianbook.com. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these stories.

Be blessed!


Friday, March 11, 2011

The ECHO Project

It's been a while since I posted about The ECHO Project, our new non-profit that we started to help meet the physical needs of those we work with, but God has done some amazing things through people who have joined us in being a voice to those in need.

*Creek Kids on Mission, from Sugar Creek Baptist in Houston, raised over $4000 by collecting change to help a young boy in need of an operation.

*A sorority from the University of Texas donated over $1400 to help put a young woman through trade school after finishing high school in Zimbabwe.

*An apartment manager donated in the name of all of his renters for Christmas.

And the list goes on. We are so blessed by the generosity of those who have given and who are helping to make a difference.

Just recently, we were able to give $900 toward uniforms so some of our orphans in Zimbabwe could go to school.

But the needs continue.

Yesterday, Scott spent the day out in the village and while he was there he met a young boy who was ten, but looked about five or six. He clearly needed better nutrition and help with his physical needs. This is exactly who we want to help. To make a difference in the lives of people we come in contact with who have needs, both spiritually and physically.

We've recently started a blog in connection with our website where you can sign up (on the top right hand corner) for the posts to come directly to your mail box. I'll also be sharing updates from time to time on this blog as to what God is doing through this ministry.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8

PS. Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win at my Heart of Africa Giveaway!

Be blessed!


Visit www.theECHOproject.org

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Heart of Africa Giveaway...

I have to say it's good to be back in Africa. Even though I'm at my aunt's in South Africa and not home in Mozambique at the moment, there something to be said about the slower pace and incredible beauty around me.

Of course slower might not be the correct description. We've started school again after a few weeks off, and I'm busy helping Janelle pack up her house as she prepares to move back to the States. I'm also writing again after a few months off during our furlough.

I promised another giveaway, and this is one I'm excited about. (Meaning I wish I could win the grand prize!) We'll have SIX winners including a grand prize winner, 1st prize, and four runners up.


Framed animal photos + copies of Blood Ransom, Blood Covenant, and An Ocean Away. You choose your favorite African animal from my photos and I'll have them placed in this beautiful wood frame.


Copies of Blood Covenant and An Ocean Away

FOUR runners up will receive one copy of their choice of either Blood Covenant or An Ocean Away

How to enter: Leave a comment on this blog post (either on Blogger or Face Book) Leave a way for me to contact you AND tell me what animal you would chose if you win the grand prize.

If you are signed up for my newsletter, you will be automatically entered. You can sign up here.

Feel free to spread the word! Giveaway closes Saturday night at midnight, PST.

For a peek at what you could have framed, I took these photos last week as we passed through Kruger game park on our way to Mozambique. We didn't see many animals, but did enjoy watching this mother and baby.

Be blessed today!


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.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

An Ocean Away- Sneak Peek Part 2

“Chuma…” Lizzie’s voice caught in her throat.

She scanned the low-lying valley behind and the border of the forested bush before them, searching for a safe place to hide. A guinea fowl fluttered into a nearby shrub, flapping its wings in alarm.

Transfixed by the vagrant animal, the children didn’t move. Lizzie pulled on their arms and started running toward the trees.

“Hurry, we’ve got to run.”

With its young beside her, the mother continued to dart toward them. Lizzie’s heart beat like the pounding rhythm of a village drum as she forced them to keep moving. Esther tripped on a rock and stumbled to the ground, so compelling Lizzie to pick up the screaming child. Blood oozed from her knee, but there was no time to examine the wound.

The elephants drew closer. Lizzie grabbed Chuma’s hand and, balancing Esther in her arms, turned north along the riverbank.
It seemed a lifetime before they managed to cross the shallow valley and make their way up the hill. Lizzie stopped beside a gnarled fig tree and looked back. The male had given up its chase and now thundered off in the opposite direction, allowing the mother and her young to escape in peace.

Chuma struggled to catch his breath. “If I had my bow and poi¬soned arrows, I’d go after that elephant.”

Lizzie set Esther on the ground beside her. “You can’t kill such a mighty beast with a poisoned arrow.”

“I would take one of Tata’s hippo spears,” Esther announced, as she sat to examine her scraped knee.

Chuma fiddled with the plaited grass bracelets on his arm and frowned. “Father would no sooner let you carry one of his barbed war spears than he would suck the seeds of a baobab fruit.”

“Stop arguing.” Lizzie retied the ribbons of her straw hat beneath her chin. “There’s nothing to worry about anymore. Let’s go home and see if you have a new brother or sister.”

The suggestion worked, for Chuma started walking toward the vil¬lage beside Esther, who quickly forgot about her injury as she followed her brother down the beaten path.

“Ndawala, ndawala, kwiwe-e, kwiwe-ey√®. I threw a spear, threw a spear, in the east, in the east… .” Chuma sang, pulling back a thick reed behind his head like a spear. “You still haven’t told us the rest of the story. Why doesn’t the zebra have horns?”

“Yes, do tell us,” Esther pleaded.

Lizzie flicked an ant off her arm. “Let’s see, where was I?”

“You had just told us that all the zebra had remained behind,” Chuma informed her.

Esther stopped and dug her toes into the dirt. “But why?”

Lizzie took the young girl’s hand. “Because they were too busy grazing, so when the zebra finally reached the place where the horns were being chosen, they found that the others had taken them all. And much to the zebra’s surprise, the only things left were a mane, long ears, stripes, and a big mouth.”

Esther giggled and pushed out her lower lip.

“The royal eland laughed at the zebra. ‘See what has happened because of your love of grazing,’ he said. ‘We have finished the horns, even the little ones have horns, but you…’ One of the graceful reedbuck held his own horns high and laughed as well. ‘Look at you—only a bit of color, ears, and drooping lips were all you could take.’ And their friends condemned them, telling the zebra that they were gluttons, and that their eating had deprived them of their horns.”

Chuma walked beside Lizzie, shaking his head. “The poor zebra.”

“The zebra were indeed sad because they had no horns,” Lizzie said. “And to this day, the zebra is considered a glutton, for it seems that he, above all other animals, spends all his time eating.”

Esther clapped her hands together. “Tell us another story, Lizzie.”

Lizzie’s heart warmed at the child’s enthusiasm. “First, you must tell me how the zebra really got its stripes.”

Chuma kicked a pebble across the path with his big toe. “It was Creator God, the God who formed the heavens and the earth with His own hands and who chose the pattern and size for each one of His creatures.”

“And who made you?”

“The same Creator God who made everything from the smallest flea, to our beautiful cattle, to the mighty banks of the great Zambezi.”

Lizzie smiled at the answer, but knew all too well that few people in the young boy’s tribe, save Chuma and his family, had accepted the truth of the Creator God as described in the Holy Scriptures.

“You’re exactly right, Chuma—”

“Don’t move.”

Lizzie stopped abruptly, turning from the children to the source of the deep, male voice, startled when she saw the man’s fair complexion, mirroring the color of her own skin. It was the one thing that had always separated her from the tribe. The man stood six feet ahead of them, where the path merged with another that led to the river, a rifle poised in his hand.
Between them was a black mamba.

Her gaze dropped to the hissing sound, and she watched the olive-colored snake out of the corner of her eye. It was at the edge of the path, poised to strike.

Her muscles tensed as she squeezed Esther’s hand and took a step backward. She wasn’t sure who she should fear the most—the snake or the stranger with a gun pointed in her direction.

Watch for a change to win a copy of An Ocean Away along with a giveaway from the heart of Africa later this week!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

An Ocean Away- Sneak Peek Part 1

If you love historical fiction, here's a sneak peek from chapter one of An Ocean Away. I'll share part two tomorrow. Enjoy!


Lizzie MacTavish froze as she watched the giant beast walk across the dusty path in front of her. She crouched in the thick folds of tall grass between Chuma and Esther, her two young African charges, holding her breath until she thought her lungs were going to burst.

The elephant lumbered toward them, close enough that Lizzie could see the infant hidden beneath the gray shadows of the mother’s belly. Close enough to see its long eyelashes that kept out the dust from storms that regularly swept across the plains and the creases in its wrinkled skin, tinged with the brown mud from the African soil.

Finally, Lizzie took a gulp of air, breathing in the sweet scent of the mufufuma tree and its violet blossoms that mingled with the musky odor of the elephant. Overhead heavy clouds gathered, waiting for the first showers of the season to fall. October always brought a change in the activities of village life. The lazy days of winter, with its sharp winds and grass fires, had all but disappeared.

As winter merged into the rainy season, the grasslands presented an abundance of fragrant flowers that perfumed the morning with their sweet smell. Even the trees were laden with scented blooms, mak¬ing up for the humid and sultry air. It was her favorite time of year, when men worked to cut the trees in the fields, and women planted the maize, sorghum, and millet in the fertile soil and harvested pumpkins and ripe forest fruits.

Esther tugged on the melon-colored fabric of Lizzie’s skirt. “Bama will not be happy when she finds out we have wandered past the far pasture and toward the banks of the river.”

Lizzie kept her voice to a low whisper. “Your mother will be busy for hours as she awaits the birth of yet another one of your sisters or brothers.”

A grin spread across Chuma’s face. “My father is praying for a son.”

Lizzie frowned. A son, of course, would be preferred. Daughters were regarded simply as wealth, much like the cattle that were often valued above both wife and child. It was one of the tribal beliefs Lizzie disagreed with. Wasn’t it the woman who stamped the corn, prepared the meals, and bore the children? Even the Holy Scripture said that men and women had been created equal in God’s sight.

“Ma, it’s coming closer.” Esther, who was barely five, nudged Lizzie with her chocolaty brown elbow.

“Shh.” A tremor shook the ground as the massive animal made its way past them, her long tail swatting away the constant barrage of flies.

At the moment, Lizzie felt no need to be concerned for their safety. From the time she could toddle across the swept African soil and out of her parents’ thatched hut, she’d discovered wonderful things like termite hills and dragonflies in the open veld. When she was older, and her father wasn’t busy trying to turn the natives from their wooden objects of worship to the one true God, he’d roamed the banks of the Zambezi River beside her. Here they’d explored the sun-cracked paths and tall grasses where wildebeest and buck roamed the plains that stretched out as far as the eye could see.

In five short months from now, the entire scene would be trans¬formed into one solid expanse of water. The next cycle would bring the swollen river that would drain from the highlands into the flood plains. Then the tributaries could only be traversed by dugout canoes and waterfowl, like the Egyptian geese and the white-marked duck, which hid in the sandbanks as they preyed on the river’s rich food supply.

Lizzie scratched the end of her nose, content with the unexpected lazy day she’d been offered. If the chief wouldn’t allow her to aid in the delivery of his daughter-in-law Posha’s third child, despite her nurse’s training, then she would keep herself busy daydreaming beneath the endless African sky. Here, along the familiar shaded riverbank of the Zambezi, was the one place her foreign heart had found to belong.

The elephant flicked her trunk across a tusk then prodded at her off¬spring. Lying on her stomach in the tall grass, Lizzie raised her head so she could see beyond the elephant and calf to the great Zambezi Valley where herds of zebra and antelope searched for food along the last of winter’s barren land. The distant blue hills were lost in the heavy morn¬ing mist that rose from the river, but soon the sun would rise toward its zenith, melting the steamy vapors while the great plain shimmered in the afternoon heat.

Esther nudged Lizzie again. “A-tu-ende.”

“English, Esther. You will never learn if you don’t practice.” Lizzie eyed the plump girl with her soft clothing made from skin of a lechwe doe and softened her expression. “We will return home soon, but you know you won’t be allowed to see your mother until the baby is born.”

“Bama promised me that as soon as he’s born I can hold him.”

“And you will, but until the little one arrives we must wait,” Lizzie insisted.

Chuma wasn’t convinced. “Bama is strong. The baby will be born quickly.”

Esther jutted out her lips and pointed to the lumbering elephant. “Look, the elephant is leaving, and I’m tired.”

Lizzie pulled the young girl close with one arm and rubbed the dark tuft of hair on the top of her head. “The Bible says that the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

Chuma frowned, apparently as bored with the afternoon exertion as his younger sister was. “I’d much prefer the tale about how the hare made the hippopotamus and rhinoceros engage in a tug-of-war, or why the zebra has no horns.”

Esther nodded. “You did promise us a story, Ma, and it will help to pass the time until we are able to see the baby.”

Lizzie stood and shook off the pieces of grass stuck to her skirt. “All right then. If I promised a story, then a story it will be.”

With the elephant moving away, the young siblings followed Lizzie along the winding path toward the village as she assumed her role storyteller. Their tribe had no written literature, but from an early age she’d been captivated by the oral stories. While her father taught her the biblical accounts of David and Goliath, and Moses’ crossing of the Red Sea, she’d sat by the fire night after night, listening to the tribe’s folktales in their native tongue. They were passed down from generation to generation, and she’d never grown weary of the repetition, practicing until she could reproduce the stories herself with all the gestures and eloquence of a skillful narrator.

Lizzie cleared her throat and took the children’s hands in hers before beginning her story. “There came a certain day, when the animals were all gathered together across the vast African plain. There were elephants, warthogs, zebra, buffalo, and every other animal you could think of, all assembled together. Now the time came for the animals to select horns for themselves, so the animals said, ‘Let’s choose our horns.’ And they did. They all ran toward the horns, the elephants, warthogs, zebra, buffalo, and every other animal you could think of, to make their selection.”

Esther squeezed Lizzie’s hand. “What about the kudu?”

“Even the kudu.”

“And the reedbuck?” Chuma asked.

“Yes, even the reedbuck.” Lizzie skipped over a broken limb in the path and smiled. No matter how many times the children heard the tale, they still asked the same questions. “So all the animals ran to select their horns. But the herd of zebra remained behind.”

An eerie trumpeting sounded behind them. Lizzie stopped. She smelled the foul scent of the male elephant before she saw his massive torso. Ears flared back, he ran toward the female and her young. A wave of fear coursed through Lizzie’s body as she squeezed the chil¬dren’s hands. She’d heard stories of the rare occasion when rogue males attacked female elephants—and killed any humans in their path.

A tar-like secretion trickled down the side of its head as the animal stopped and bent down to dig its tusks into the ground. The female, sensing the danger for her and her calf, turned, wavered momentarily, then headed straight toward the three of them.

Dateline: 1921—Northern Rhodesia and New York, New York. Lizzie MacTavis is determined to remain with the people with whom God called her to work along the banks of the rugged Zambezi River in southern Africa.

Andrew Styles, an anthropologist and explorer, has been commissioned to bring Lizzie back to New York City at any cost. With a fortune at stake, Lizzie is caught between two worlds when she is finally forced to return to the United States and discovers her life is in danger. Will Andrew turn out to be Lizzie’s nemesis or hero?
Pre-order here!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

An Ocean Away

I'm currently in the middle of unpacking all of our suitcases with limited internet until our wireless is set up again by the telephone company, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a bit about my March release from Summerside Press that I'm very excited about. Set in 1921 in both Northern Rhodesia and New York City in the early 1920's, this historical romance with a strong suspense line, will sweep you away to another era.

An Ocean Away Book Trailer- Summerside, March 2011 from Lisa Harris on Vimeo.

Stay tuned for more info about the book as well as how you can win a copy.

Be blessed!