Lisa (Zaleta) Williams ’91 has always enjoyed working with children. As a mother of three and a licensed clinical social worker who works with middle school students, she is improving the lives of children and teens every day.
In addition to her social work job, Williams—who graduated from Messiah with a degree in Spanish before pursuing her master’s degree in social work from Temple University—also enjoys writing psycho-educational and advocacy pieces on mental health issues for Hispanic newspapers.
Williams rediscovered her passion for creative writing after witnessing what she calls a “God story” a few Christmases ago, which led her to write her first children’s book, “The Christmas Hippo.”
“I have always enjoyed writing,” said Williams. “Writing poetry was actually an older hobby. I put it on the side burner for quite some time for various reasons. However, this project was definitely a moment of unleashing my inner writer.”
Williams completed the text for “The Christmas Hippo” in just 45 minutes. “I was simply a scribe to what God wanted me to share,” she said.
The book tells the story of a young girl who left her favorite hippo stuffed animal on the school bus one day. When the bus driver found the hippo, he knew he had to return it her. However, the girl’s family was moving, so when he went to return it, their house was empty and the school was closed for winter break. After praying about how he would return the hippo to the girl, a group of carolers showed up at the bus driver’s door. There with Williams and the other carolers, was the sister of the little girl who lost her hippo. The girl was staying at Williams’ house that night and came caroling with the group who, unaware of the missing hippo, arrived at the bus driver’s house for their last stop.
“I was reflecting back about that ‘great God story’ and told my husband I just had to share it with the world,” said Williams. “I originally wanted to put it in a song. However, my husband suggested a children’s book. Long story very short, in 45 minutes, that very day, the book was written.”
Williams has self-published the book through WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson publications, and is enjoying the success of the book so far.
“I want to share the story of the Christmas hippo with as many people as I can,” said Williams. “My hope is that people will know to come to God with all their cares, no matter how small they seem and that it will teach a lesson that he cares about even our smallest concerns.”