Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author with over twenty novels and novellas in print. She and her husband, Scott, along with their three children, are missionaries living near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. As a home-schooling mom, life can get hectic, but her writing is an extension of her ministry, which also includes running a non-profit organization, The ECHO Project, that “speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves . . . the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice” (Prov. 31:8). When she’s not working, she loves hanging out with her family, cooking ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa, visit her Website at or her blog at For more information about The ECHO Project, please visit

Living in Two Worlds

I lead a double life. By day, I’m your typical home-schooling mom who makes sure my three kids do their homework, eat enough vegetables, and still have time to hang out with their friends.

By night, though, I exchange my stack of tests and red pens to forge the jungles of Africa, risking my life as I take on the world in the pursuit of justice.

Well, at least in my imagination.

Such is the life of a suspense writer. In the current suspense series I’ve written for Zondervan, each story is set against the backdrop of current issues facing the continent of Africa. Blood Ransom is a cross-country race against time to save a young boy’s family who is caught up in the modern-day slave trade. Book two, Blood Covenant, follows the same fast-pasted pattern, but takes place primarily in a refugee camp where hundreds of people have recently fled because of political upheaval in the country.

As a writer, I love to transport the reader to a unique setting and then thrust them into a story that keeps their hearts pumping. I love to create characters who face grueling odds and yet triumph over the bad guys in the end.

But there’s another aspect of a writer’s life that’s almost just as grueling as reworking and scripting the perfect scene. I will be the first to admit that trying to keep peace between life’s responsibilities and writing deadlines can be an incredible challenge.

Of course, even as a regular home-schooling mom by day and writer by night, my life probably isn’t quite as typical as most. Seven years ago we sold our house and exchanged American suburbia for the mission field in Africa. Living on the other side of the world has made me look at life differently. I enjoy the slower pace, less commercialism, and emphasis on relationships over being a slave to the clock. It’s has also made me more appreciative of the opportunities and freedoms I have because I am an American.

Traveling and living in different countries (I have lived in six) has also widened my worldview and given me a greater understanding into the lives and perspectives of other people. After being back in the States on furlough the last few months, I’ve noticed that while my life in Africa is very full—especially when I add writing to the mix—the overall pace in Africa is much slower than in America. And though I miss many stateside conveniences, the slower pace of life is definitely a benefit of living there.

But matter where we live in the world, many of us spend our days running from one activity to the next, wondering if we’re ever going to catch up. We have dreams (like writing that next best seller) but always search for how to find time to write when the “urgent” is always demanding our full attention. There just doesn’t seem time to do everything we need to, let alone everything we want to do.

I’ve struggled with this as I tackle the never ending to-do list. I believe the key to winning this battle is both a lot of prayer and a proper alignment of priorities. Here are ten principles that I am trying to incorporate into my life to maintain that balance. Hopefully, they will help you.

1. Focus on your relationship with God: God’s Word is clear that our relationship with Him needs to come first. Mathew 6:33 tells us to “. . . seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (NASB). This is an incredible reminder to me, especially when I realize that we were created in God’s image for His glory, called by name, and those who follow Him are His.

2. Focus on your relationships with others: In our society, evenings around the family dinner table have been replaced by the drive-through of the nearest fast food restaurant as everyone scatters in different directions. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard to understand why it’s difficult to invest in and develop deep relationships with friends and family. But building these relationships are important, which leads rinto number three.

3. Slow down: Ecclesiastes says that there is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (3:1 NIV). That includes a biblical principle of rest. The world tells us that we need to do more to succeed in life so we can gain everything it has to offer, but at what cost? Finding balance requires finding time for rest and renewal in your life.

4. Take care of yourself: I recently read a fantastic post on Michael Hyatt’s blog where he said that if we don’t take care of ourselves, then we can’t take care of anyone else. He’s right. Finding balance in life means that we need energy both physically and mentally. There are no shortcuts, so it means eating right, exercising regularly, and ensuring we are growing spiritually and mentally.

5. Engage in life: How many of us find ourselves at the end of another day only to realize that we’ve done everything on autopilot? Life is for living and enjoying the world. So while it might be a cliché, stop and take time to smell the flowers, watch the sun set, and connect with those around you. You might even find the descriptions in your writing become more vivid.

6. Learn to say no: We have dozens of choices to make every day, and if you’re like me, saying no (especially to good things) is a struggle; however, sometimes that’s exactly what we have to do—say no. It’s better to do a few things well than to overextend ourselves with too many commitments, which destroys the balance in our lives faster than anything.

7. Find a core of supporters: How many of us are constantly surrounded by people, but we still feel alone? Find a small group of people outside your immediate family—like a writer’s group or a life group at church—who uplift and encourage you, positive thinkers who will encourage you to become a better person.

8. Impact those around you: I’ve been amazed to discover that when I give to others, I’m often the one who is changed the most. Not only does it expand my world, but I end up forgetting about many of the problems in my own life. What seemed insurmountable in my life at that moment quickly diminishes when I compare them to someone else’s challenges. Plus simply put, you feel good when you give to someone else.

9. Don’t just talk about what you want to do, do it: What do you want out of life? Whether it is finishing a novel, losing weight, or climbing Mt. Everest, set reasonable goals, balance your expectations, and go for it.

10. Enjoy the journey: Life is more than just the destination. It’s a collection of experiences, laughs, and even tears that help to mold us into the person we are. Slow down enough to enjoy life to the fullest with those you love. You’ll have more energy, more creativity, and more to give to others.


Blood Ransom