Finding a Christmas Miracle in a Book Cover

[SUN CITY, Calif., Dec. 4, 2012 /Christian Newswire] When bestselling novelist Kathi Macias was working on her book Unexpected Christmas Heroshe never expected to find a Christmas miracle in her book cover, but that’s exactly what happened.

When Kathi finished her manuscript and handed it over to her editor, photographer and designer Michael Lê was assigned the task of finding a homeless man who fit the physical representation of Macias’ character. Lê and wife Christine were in Ashville, North Carolina last Christmas when they stopped their car and asked a homeless man by the name of Willard Parker if he would be willing to pose for some pictures.

Parker agreed. He also began to reveal glimpses into his own sad story. He lost his house.  He lost touch with his daughters and grandchildren. He said his life had not turned out the way he’d hoped. Now destitute, he was walking the streets and looking for the next place to find a hot meal and a bed. He told Lê, how he longed to see his daughters but had no idea where they were or how that could happen.

When Macias heard the story, she prayed the cover would help reunite father and family. Unexpected Christmas Hero released in mid-October and fell into the hands of a woman who knew Willard’s 26-year-old daughter, Amber. The mother of his 2 and 5-year-old grandchildren, Amber went online and found the cover of the book. It was indeed her dad. She wept.  But where was he? How could she find him? Where does one find a homeless person who keeps moving from town to town?

Driving near Ashville North Carolina, Willard’s estranged wife unexpectedly spotted him walking down the sidewalk and picked him up. Willard has acute leukemia and is not in good health but kept talking about getting the family back together. He says, “When I had my picture taken for the book cover, all I wanted was for it to help me get back with my family. It worked, and I’m really grateful.”

Amber is equally as excited. “I’m so happy. I can’t wait to be together again,” she says. “You never know how long you have on this earth and all he [my dad] wants is his family together.” Since the reunion by phone with daughters Amber and Rebecca (Willard is now in Toledo, Ohio), both are eager to see their dad and bring this unexpected Christmas miracle to fruition.

Kathi is now trying to help Willard’s family with travel expenses so they can be united. She has set up a Go Get Funding project that will accept contributions to help make this happen.  You can help by clicking HERE.

To watch a book trailer about Kathi’s book, watch the video below:

Also enjoy this mention of  Unexpected Christmas Hero and other titles. See more from the FamilyFiction YouTube channel!

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Finding God in Surviving Bullying

Finding God in Surviving Bullying

Bullying is a deep problem in our society, where kids, teens, and even adults are belittled, harassed and tormented for social, economic, physical, religious, and other reasons. Though being bullied can be emotionally devastating, it can be survived.

Below are several stories of famous celebs who not only survived being bullied, but overcame it. At the end of their stories, I’ll share tips on finding God in surviving bullying plus a trailer for the movie Bully.

Photo of Miley Cyrus (Wikipedia.com)

According to the antibullyingblog, when Miley Cyrus was a pre-teen in Tennessee there was an “Anti-Miley Club” at her school full of “big, tough girls” who bullied her.

Cyrus was once locked in a bathroom during class: “They shoved me in. I was trapped. I banged on the door until my fists hurt. Nobody came.”

Other incidents included challenging Cyrus to a fight, which only ended when the principal stepped in. And when Cyrus wasn’t being physically abused, she was being teased. Classmates told her, “Your dad’s a one-hit wonder. You’ll never amount to anything — just like him.” Fortunately for her, Cyrus did not listen to nay-sayers, scoring the role of “Hannah Montana” and a ticket to fame and fortune.

Lady Gaga (Wikipedia.com)

Miley is not the only celeb who experienced the bully-treatment.  At a recent Monster Ball concert in New York, Lady Gaga said:

“I use to get really bullied at school…one time I got thrown in the trash. I went to the pizzeria around the corner. And you know, it was meant to be a joke, right? But these guys that some of my friends were friends with, were also friends with these other girls who really didn’t like me very much.

So the guys were like, let me put you in the trash where you belong. So they picked me up in my school skirt and they put me in the trash. I was looking up at them and trying to laugh…to act like it didn’t bother me because I didn’t want to show a sign of weakness. But really, I was holding back the tears so hard because I was so embarrassed that I was in the trash can. So I want to say to you that I am living proof that if anyone ever puts you in a (bleep) trash can, you can get the (bleep) out.”

Bill Clinton from Wikipedia.com

Even United States Presidents endured bullying. In fact, President Bill Clinton was bullied in junior high for being a “fat band boy” with bad taste in clothes, also mentioned in the antibullying blog article.

Their taunting culminated in an incident at a junior high dance: one older student teased Clinton about his carpenter’s jeans, and even hit Clinton in the jaw. But Clinton did not give the bully what he wanted, choosing to stand his ground rather than fight back or back down. Clinton shares in his memoir, My Life, “I had learned that I could take a hit and that there’s more than one way to stand against aggression.” He survived the incident, and his status as a band geek paid off, with Clinton becoming a talented and celebrated saxophone player in addition to his life in public service.

If you are being bullied, check out these tips suggested by Kids Health:

  • Ignore the bully and walk away.
  • Hold the anger.
  • Don’t get physical.
  • Practice confidence.
  • Take charge of your life.
  • Talk about it.
  • Find your (true) friends.

How to Find God in Surviving Bullying

Some of these tips are easier to achieve than others. But I think the biggest thing you can do is to decide, I will not believe the lies the bullies use to hurt me, I will trust God.

We serve a God who sees us loved, precious, redeemed, valuable and beautiful, who sent his own son to die in our place.

Try praying this prayer from my article, I am Getting Bullied from ThinkingAboutSuicide.com:

Dear Lord,

I break the lying words that people are saying about me, in the power and authority of the name and blood of Jesus. I ask that you replace those words with loving words you use to describe me; precious, loved, beautiful, smart, full of promise, a miracle, and wonderful. Give me your power, strength and truth to believe your words instead of the lies. Please block and cancel lying words and any thoughts of suicide – in the power and authority of the name and blood of Jesus. Thank you for giving me a hope and a future. In Jesus name, Amen.

So you see, it’s possible to find God in surviving bullying. Check out the new Bully movie as well as Paul Coughlin on how to Bully-proof your kids from CBN.com:

To discover more about how to have a relationship with God, go to GodTest.com.

©Linda Evans Shepherd. Linda is the President of Right to the Heart ministries, publisher of Finding God Daily, and pens many of our articles.  She’s also the author of over 30 books and a national speaker.

 

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Finding God Through Personalized Prayer

By: Deborah Lovett 

Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, by Paolo Veronese, 1585 Used by permission from Wikipedia.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

I love the way the Master Storyteller weaves a story. In the verse before this, the Samaritan Woman asked Jesus the question: “How can you ask me for a drink?” The woman was talking about physical H2O that came from Jacob’s well. Jesus changed the course of the conversation by his statement above, including “if, what, who, how, and ask.” Of course, He was referring to something totally foreign to her, called the “Living Water,” or spiritual water for her soul. The metaphorical significance is important. It shows us how we can be finding God through personalized prayer today.

Isn’t it just like Jesus to totally captivate His audience? We should take notes from this Man who called fishermen to become followers, and they immediately dropped their nets when He said, “Come follow me.” The irony of this moment is that the woman thought Jesus wanted something from her. When in fact, He wanted to give her the most precious gift in life—a personal, one-on-one relationship with a man who would never leave her or forsake her.

It is also just like Jesus to answer the woman’s question with a gift! However, I’m convinced most of us aren’t aware of the gifts just waiting for us. For if we knew what they were, and Who they were coming from, we would ask more often, for that explains how we receive them! To know Him is to know His gifts and how extravagantly He loves us.

God is saying to you and me today, “If you knew the gifts of your inheritance in Christ Jesus, you would be spending a lot more time in prayer asking for them.” In this passage, Jesus is saying, “Even though you don’t know, or even understand, ask anyway!” He has given us the deepest desires of our hearts, and He longs to fulfill those desires.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift giver of all time. He gave His life to save us from our sins. He gave His Holy Spirit to counsel us. He gave His stories to help us understand His truth. He gave thousands of people fish and bread for dinner. He gave the disciples a legacy to pass on to others. He gave Mary and Martha their brother back. He gave the blind man sight. He gave and He gave and He gave. Actually, He gave Himself right into the grave. As we seek Him, the gifts of peace, love, and joy naturally flow from Him to us like water from a river through the power of the Holy Spirit.

On that day in Jesus’ conversation with the Woman at the Well, He was about to give her the gift of Living Water. What this particular verse offers us is the gift of finding God through personalized prayer. He was saying, “Ask for what you think you need, and I’ll give you what I know is best.” Today, don’t be afraid to ask! We pray, and He personalizes our prayer to fit us perfectly. Just believe!

See the YouTube clip below to watch a reenactment of the meeting of Jesus and the woman at the well:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7INnvnHrlg

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