Guest Post – Reaching out at Christmas

Today I’m pleased to welcome Kathi Macias to my blog. I’ve enjoyed reading some of Kathi’s books and in August Kathi invited me to join her as an author in her Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas Series.

Kathi MaciasKathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by BookandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors.  To learn more about the persecuted church, please visit VOM’s website and Open Doors Website

Reaching out at Christmas

I must admit that Christmas Eve has always been my favorite time of year. When I was a child it seemed “magical,” as we waited for Santa to bring us the gifts we would open the next morning. I know now, that though Jesus most likely wasn’t born on the night of December 24, the real gift of Christmas is what we celebrate on this most loved of holidays. I also know, as a former biblical counselor on a large church staff, that this is the time of year that heightens all our emotions–whether joyous or heart-wrenching. Right now I can’t help but think of the many families who have been impacted by various tragedies throughout this past year, particularly school shootings or other crimes involving our beloved children. Regardless of where they stand on the purpose for Christ’s birth, this has got to be the most difficult time for them that any human can experience.

We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives, but our children? No pain can compare–except perhaps that of the Father, as He watched His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His own creation. And that’s the answer I give when asked, “Where is God when such a horrible event takes place?” He is where He always is, sitting on the throne in complete control and yet weeping with those who weep, hurting with those who hurt, mourning with those who mourn–because He’s been there and He knows better than anyone the tragic outcome of evil, selfish choices. The Scriptures say that God bottles our tears, and that one day in heaven He will wipe them all away. Until then, He stands waiting, His nail-scarred hands extended and ready to carry us through to the other side.

There are practical and creative ways we can offer our own hands and hearts to assist those who are experiencing grief beyond imagining at this time of year, whether it’s donating meals, money, or flowers, and I encourage you all to take advantage of those opportunities whenever possible. But I also encourage you to pray, not just when the pain is fresh but for a long time to come because losing a child isn’t something anyone will get past quickly or easily–possibly not ever on this earth. We may never personally meet any of those who have lost loved ones in such a manner, but we can give them a selfless gift at Christmas–a commitment to pray for them for as long as we have breath to do so. Then one day, when we have “graduated to heaven” and meet all those precious little ones who went on ahead of us, God will wipe away our tears as well.

A very blessed Christmas to you all, beloved, as you give of yourself to those who need an extra touch of Christ’s love.


The Essence of Christmas

Writers are challenged to condense each story down to a one or two sentence tag line. What would be your “tagline” for Christmas? In other words, what does Christmas mean to you? If the pretty lights, snow, times with family and friends, baking, tasty treats, and frantic shopping disappeared, would it still be Christmas? This is one of the themes I explore in my new novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle.

Christmas Tree Cookie

Maybe you’ve never stopped to think about the essence of Christmas. Where and when did Christmas start? What and why should we be celebrating?

According to Dictionary.com, Christmas is:

“the annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus: celebrated on December 25 and now generally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion for exchanging gifts.”

“before 1150; Middle English cristmasse; Old English Cristes mǣsse Mass of Christ”

The Bible tells about the birth of Jesus Christ in several passages:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 NIV)

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:1-7 NIV)

“8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)

“and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9b-11 NIV)

“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV)

present

If I had to condense all of this down to a tagline, I would say Christmas is celebrating the gift of salvation, available to us because of Jesus Christ.

Do you think I’ve accurately captured the essence of Christmas? Is there anything you would add or subtract from my Christmas tagline?


Behind the Scenes – Cecile’s Christmas Miracle

Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas SeriesIn August 2013 I was invited to write a story for the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas Series which is being published by Helping Hands Press. This story started over a year ago when I wrote a 1,000 word entry for a Fiction in Five contest. The prompt I received was: “Living in the desert at Christmas time is so depressing,” along with five words I had to use somewhere in the story (like turkey, carols, etc.)

As a child I became acquainted with the Kalahari Desert while living in Botswana, Africa, where my parents were serving as missionaries. We had an “aunty” who was a missionary nurse in the Kalahari Desert. I was surprised how many memories came to life as I thought of Aunt Ngairie and her work among the San Bushmen. Writing a very short story was OK, but I wanted to expand it.

When the opportunity came to write a story for the 12 Days of Christmas series, I decided to revisit Cecile and her adventures among the San Bushmen. The story needed fleshing out, so I did some research and discovered the controversy over the resettling of the San Bushmen. (For more details, Google “Botswana resettlement”.) This helped add a new dimension and external conflict to the story. Colin and his story grew out of the early flashback which Cecile has and then he took on a life of his own.

Here’s a small introduction to Cecile’s Christmas Miracle

Living and working here was nothing like she had imagined it. In many ways, Cecile felt like she’d been plunked into the middle of a movie set for The Gods Must Be Crazy. The calendar said 2002, but these people lived like early settlers in North America. To top it all off, she was hearing rumors about the government relocating the San Bushmen and closing clinics. Something to do with a major discovery of diamonds in the area. She had poured her heart and soul into ministering to these people. Was it all going to come to a sudden ignoble end, like a puff of dandelion seeds being blown into the air?

The story is slated for release on December 1st with Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Stay tuned for further details!


An Interview with Author Kathi Macias

The Deliverer by Kathi Macias has just been released. This is the third book in the Freedom Series. In this interview, Kathi gives some background information about the book. I am offering a free copy of the book. To enter, post a comment below. I will draw a name on September 30th and announce the winner. For my response to The Deliverer, check out my book review.

While this is the third and final book in the Freedom Series, I’m sure there are people who are just learning about it. Would you please share what prompted you to write these books on such topic as relevant and difficult as human trafficking?

Kathi Macias

I was finishing up my previous fiction series for New Hope Publishers (the Extreme Devotion Series, dealing with the persecuted Church around the world) when Andrea Mullins (the publisher at New Hope) asked me what topic I wanted to tackle next. We discussed a few possibilities, and then she suggested human trafficking. I was aware of it and thought it was terrible but had no idea how widespread it was. I agreed to do some preliminary research and get back to her. When I discovered there are more than 27 million people held in various forms of human trafficking (sexual slavery, forced labor or military conscription, involuntary donation of body parts/organs) and that many of them are children (including an estimated 100,000—300,000 MINORS held in sexual slavery in the US today!), I was horrified. I was also convinced that I had to do everything possible to help educate others about this widespread horror and to call them to join the fight. Not only have I now written/released the Freedom Series on human trafficking, but I’m speaking on it everywhere/every chance I get.

What was your original objective in writing these books, Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer? And, what are you hearing back from people who have read the books? How are they taking action?

Originally my plan was to see the books alert readers to this horrific crime and, hopefully, challenge them to get involved in fighting it some way. That seems to be happening, but on such a larger scope than I had imagined. The response from readers is overwhelming! Pastors have written to say they are challenging their entire church to get involved on some level, and I’m being invited to speak all over the country on this topic. I am thrilled to see the Light being shined in this terrible darkness at last! As for specific actions, pastors and civic leaders are inviting me (or others in this ministry) to come and speak to their congregations/groups to help educate them on this massive tragedy. Readers tell me they are posting about my books all over the net to help snag people’s attention. I’m getting invitations to speak on radio and TV as well. I’ve also been contacted by readers who are getting involved in setting up safe houses for rescued victims, which is a huge need. I was even contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and invited to participate in group conference calls on the topic. Overall, I’m thrilled at the way God is using these books to help sound the alarm and to “rescue the perishing.”

It seems there is always someone in your books who is an intercessor. Why is that important for you to include?

This is vital to me, and as you said, I almost always include an intercessor in my novels. I know there were intercessors in my own life who prayed me through some incredibly dangerous and difficult times, and I appreciate those heroes of the faith more than I can express. Highlighting their importance in my books accomplishes two things: it enables me to honor those faithful intercessors who often get no recognition in this world, and it also calls others to get involved in intercession as well.

You write books as you often call them, parables with a purpose, on topics such as human trafficking, the persecuted church, illegal immigration, and your Christmas 2012 book is about homelessness. Some might call you an advocate. Why is it important for Christians, and the church as a whole, to discuss these issues?

You’re right that I call my novels “parables with purpose,” because I believe Jesus is our example and that’s what He told to His followers—parables with purpose. He didn’t just tell them “nice stories” to entertain them. He told stories that would grab them right where they lived, and then challenge them to change their hearts, their minds, and their lives. The Church has always been at the forefront of serious social change, leading the charge to abolish slavery for instance, and leading the charge on these other issues is right where the Church needs to be now. The first step is to discuss the issues, to make people aware of them, and then to call them to action. I believe gripping fiction is one of the most effective ways to do that.

Will you give us a glimpse, a taste of things to come — without getting too far ahead — of what’s in store for your next series and books on the horizon?

In addition to the 2012 Christmas novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, dealing with homelessness in America, I will be releasing a new series starting in January. The first of the three novels is called The Moses Quilt, and it deals with a contemporary interracial romance, set against the background of a quilt that tells the story of the courageous, faith-filled woman known as Harriet Tubman. A contemporary novel dealing with the issue of abortion will follow, with the first woman doctor in America, Elizabeth Blackwell, as our backdrop heroine. The final book will be built around the much beloved Fanny Crosby, as we deal with the issue of people with disabilities. That series is from New Hope Publishers, but I also have a book releasing in the Spring of 2013 from B&H Publishers called Last Chance for Justice. It’s part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series, and I’m very excited about it.

You also write a devotional blog. Can you tell us what the focus is and where we can find it?

I started writing a weekly devotional several years ago, in response to a request from the then newly formed group CAN (Christian Authors Network). I sent it out as a group email and had about 40 recipients then. The devotional mailing quickly grew and expanded beyond the CAN group, with countless readers signing up to receive it. I also started posting it each week on my devotional blog (http://kathimacias.com/category/devotional-2/), which is part of my primary website (www.kathimacias.com), where you will also find my “Easy Writer” blog, which is more writing-related. (You can also sign up there to receive the weekly devotional in your inbox.) Over the years the devotional has been picked up by Crosswalk, Black Christian News, Latino Christian News (I offer it in Spanish as well as English), Believe.com, Christians in Recovery, etc., so the readership has mushroomed beyond anything I ever imagined. God is amazing, isn’t He?

Finally, we know you as an award-winning author, but you also enjoy speaking for women’s events, and other groups, as well. On what areas or topics do you focus your speaking presentations? How can a church or group find out more about having you speak for their event?

I speak on various topics, including the issues I address in my books, but on other topics too. One of my most requested topics is “When Passion and Purpose Collide.” That, along with several other popular topics, can be found in the speaking section of my website (http://kathimacias.com/speaking/). To see my current speaking schedule and/or to explore the possibility of having me come and speak, just go to http://kathimacias.com/speaking/speaking-schedule/ and click on the Christian Speakers Services button to make contact. You can also see some of my speaking endorsements at http://kathimacias.com/speaking/endorsements/.

For more opportunities for free copies of The Deliverer by Kathi Macias, please visit Facebook.com/CSSVBT.KathiMacias.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

[youtube=http://youtu.be/NobFUST7xlk]