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For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ~ Luke 2:10-12

2011

The Wordsmith Journal

Merry Christmas From The Wordsmith Journal Pamela S. Thibodeaux, Editor


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The Wordsmith Journal launched October 2011, with the goal of introducing Christian readers to authors of books with a strong moral message, in hopes those connections would turn into friendships over good books. The original intention of TWJ was to provide a downloadable pdf version of the magazine each month. Due to limited resources and unforeseen circumstances, this was not done. In an effort to fulfill the original vision for the magazine, I’ve recreated the December 2011 issue to the best of my ability. Any interview or advertisement left out was unintentional. *Please note: In December we ran a buy 1 get 1 free ad special ~ instead of putting all of the books in both editions, I have divided them between Dec 2011 & Jan 2012. In This Issue: In this issue we are pleased to bring you Christmas Stories from our readers as well as Christmas Books along with other titles advertised; Our Regular Columns by Terry Whalin, Dawn Kidd, EE Kennedy, & Scott Higginbotham; Author Interviews by Mary Nichelson; We’d also like to introduce our 2 new Feature Authors ~ Mary Manners & Kathi Macias!

~~~~~ Want to purchase a title you see advertised here in TWJM? Simply click on the cover image, ISBN# or Title (if highlighted)!

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Threads of Hope By Andrea Boeshaar Realms/Charisma House Publishers ISBN-13: 978-1616384975 The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people… Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel. In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?

~~~~~ Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. ~ Matthew 1:23

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3 A stolen text... When the Book of Aleth is stolen, Aaron, captain of the Royal Guard, is ordered by Emperor Therion to reclaim the ancient tome. The mission thrusts Aaron into a world he's never known--a world of elves and dwarves, races long thought extinct; a world where everything he has known and believed is a lie.

Masquerade Marriage by Anne Green White Rose Publishing ISBN-13: 978-1611160109 A SECRET LIST He was born to a clan of noted warriors and musicians. Yet to protect his loved ones and escape the dark fate of his brothers, he abandons his identity. Hiding from relentless soldiers who want him dead, he vows to protect the woman he loves more than life, more than freedom, more than Scotland. But his presence throws her into danger. A VOW HONORED She weds a stranger to save his life. But do vows make a marriage? When does a marriage become a marriage? What if she holds a different love inside her heart? A SACRIFICE MADE Steeling himself against the pain, he condemns himself to a life of heartbreak without her. Wanting her desperately, knowing he can’t have her, he surrenders her and heads alone to certain death. Outlawed, with a price on his head, does she love him enough to give up castle, lands, and family, and risk the agony of surrendering her heart a second time?

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Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part One By Michael Duncan ISBN-13: 978-1611161205

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A secret past... Forced to challenge his long-held beliefs, Aaron and his companions, two soldiers of the Royal Guard and two men of the Dwarvish kingdom of Brekken-Dahl, set out on a quest to recover the Book. Aaron resolves to discover the truth, and rescue the empire he is sworn to protect.

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My Throwaway Tree by: Joyce Schneider So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10 It was ten days before Christmas and we still did not have a tree. I thought my husband, Bobby, could run get one after dinner that night, but he was not feeling well. He skipped dinner and headed to bed. I decided I could go get a tree, and off Chase, my eight year old son, and I went. We didn’t want to spend much money, so we headed to Publix first, but there were no trees there. We decided to give Home Depot a try. As we pulled in, we saw that the tree lot was dark and empty. Chase and I looked at each other, and we were both disappointed. I suggested we get out and look around to see it there were any trees elsewhere. As we walked around the corner of the dark lot, there was a fellow in the back digging through a pile of discarded trees looking for greenery.

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Dec 2011 Issue He saw our disappointment and explained that all the trees were gone, except this pile of trash trees that were going to be thrown away. He reached down and pulled out a tree and asked us if we wanted it. Chase really wanted a tree. It was getting late and I was tired and I didn’t really feel like looking elsewhere. So I said, “Sure. We’ll take it home, stick it in some water and see what happens. If it still looks ratty tomorrow, we’ll go get another one.” So home we went with our little throwaway tree. But it really wasn’t that little. It filled the entire back of my truck, so it had to be at least 6 feet tall. When we got home, we woke Bobby up and asked him to help us with our tree. The poor guy wasn’t feeling well at all, but he saw our excitement, and so he got up and trimmed off the bottom of the tree and put it into the tree stand. Then we filled the stand with sugar water and said, “Well, let’s see what happens.” It was pretty ratty tatty. It had been lying in that discarded pile a while, I think. But we were hoping a little TLC might bring it back to life.

4 King, fueled by His love! Father, I know there are so many hurting people, feeling lost and discarded by the trials of life. Lord Jesus, I ask you to wrap them up in your love and bring peace to them in the midst of their challenges and Lord, let them know that You love them and that You hold the key to life for them. And Father, thank you for not allowing me to stay in that place of abandonment and pain, but rather to be filled to the overflow with your love and your peace. ©2011 Joyce Schneider *Reprinted with Permission Joyce Schneider has a passion for helping hurting woman, especially those suffering from past abortions, miscarriage or stillborn birth. Her writings share her discovery that God doesn't want our perfection, but rather our hearts. www.alifedecision.org

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And you know what? It did! Yep, we got up the next day and went downstairs, and that tree was green again and the branches had started to fall down into place. It really wasn’t bad looking at all. Just one little bare spot near the top. When Bobby got home he trimmed up the branches, carried it upstairs, and put lights on it. The boys filled the branches with decorations. And we have a nice Christmas tree! Did you ever feel like that tree? A throwaway person? Discarded by life? Discarded by others? I had reached a point in my life at one time when I didn’t really care if I lived or died. In fact, I had planned on actually killing myself. The life I lived just didn’t hold any attraction for me. Drugs and alcohol and guilt and shame were a vicious cycle, and I was tired of the treadmill and ready to call it quits. But God had other plans for me. He picked me up out of that pile, watered me with His Word, and trimmed off all my dead limbs. And then let His light shine through all the brokenness. When I look at our little Christmas tree today, there is no sign of that battered, discarded throwaway tree. I see a tree decorated with love. And when I look at my life, I don’t see a throwaway person, but rather a child of the

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

One Holy Night By J. M. Hochstetler Sheaf House Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0979748509 As on that holy night long ago … in a world torn by strife … to a family that suffered heartwrenching loss … there will be born a baby … One Holy Night retells the Christmas story in a strikingly original way—through the discovery of a baby abandoned in the manger of a church’s nativity scene. Destined to become a classic for all seasons, One Holy Night deals compassionately with the gritty issues of life— war and violence, devastating illness, intergenerational and interracial conflict, addictions, and broken relationships. This moving, inspirational story will warm readers’ hearts with hope and joy long after they finish reading.

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~~~~~ Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Hynd by Mary Nichelson © Dec 2011

When Mother Theresa died at the age of 87 on September 5, 1997 in Calcutta, India, a lot of the awareness of what international charities were accomplishing died with her. With the release of a few unfavorable biographies this year focusing on what some field missions have done wrong, it is only fair to look at what the many unnamed Mother Teresa’s of the world are doing right. The first name that comes to mind is Dr. Elizabeth Hynd.

opening a home for children in Africa who’ve been orphaned by AIDS? EH-It really wasn’t my decision. I was happy working in Hong Kong when God tapped me on the shoulder and caused me to think again about the desperate need of the country where I had been born to missionary parents. Then the king of Swaziland, King Mswati III, personally asked me to come back to Swaziland and help the country. I could not ignore a call from the King of Swaziland and the King of kings, God our Father. MN-Your philosophy seems to be broader than merely feeding and clothing children. What is your vision for New Hope Centre Swaziland?

Through New Hope Center, she not only provides food and clothing for orphans, but an education as well. I’m not talking just reading, writing and arithmetic, either. She teaches Biblical concepts in a manner that shames the average parent. Hynd begins each day with chapel and devotions, each Friday is a celebration of Shabbat-in fact, all of the feasts are celebrated, and perhaps my favorite is how she engages the children on Christmas.

EH-Because most of the middle generations of Swaziland—parents, teachers, policemen, doctors, and nurses—have died in the AIDS epidemic, the country has lost its leadership. In fact, a local newspaper declared that if the deaths due to AIDS do not abate, by 2020 there will be no adults in Swaziland. It will be a nation of children. I believe my calling is to raise the next generation of leadership in this tiny country.

“Christmas morning, we are up early to go to Anglican cathedral in Mbabane for high mass. The children are prepared and practiced to take communion formally in church; they know the scriptures of the liturgy from memory and participate fully in the service. The rest of the day is free for fun in the sun.”

MN-So, why did you write the book?

Dr. Elizabeth Hynd’s book titled A Little Child Shall Lead Them-The Story of Saving a Nation is applicable reading for this time of year. She shares her story and the previously untold stories of many orphans victimized by an out of control AIDS epidemic. Her book arouses compassion, sheds light on a much needed mission, and makes you want to board the next plane to Africa and personally hug some of the children whose stories she shared.

MN-How many children are at New Hope Centre’s home?

Hynd represents the power of one but can not satisfy the full scope of what’s needed alone. She asks for help, but don’t ask her for specifics. She’s leaving that between you and God. MN-You have a background in teaching, science, and math. What made you consider

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

EH-To make others aware of the great need of our land, to raise support for our children, to enlist volunteers to come help us, and because this home and these children are my life’s work.

EH-The number varies from time to time, but currently we have about 50 children. MN-How do you help these uneducated children to learn? EH-We use a self-directed program that was developed for missionary children. The students can go ahead as fast as they wish, depending on how hard they work. Most of them are diligent students. There are competitions and goals toward which they can strive in their academic success. In addition to academics, many of the children are in swimming, and they regularly win awards. They participate in other sports. They learn ballet and other

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Dec 2011 Issue dance. They write and produce their own plays. They lead in regional camps we conduct for other Swazi orphans whom we cannot bring into our home because of lack of space and funds. We expect the children to learn to speak in public and to speak out clearly. MN-What is your greatest need at the home? EH-First, we need funds, especially sponsorship funds for each child. Second, we need the help of volunteers to fill in the gaps of our staff. Some have come and taught. Some have taught music and dance. Some have helped our swimmers. Some write books for us. There is much to be done in a home such as ours, and we can always use assistance. MN-If someone reading this interview wanted to help, how would they respond? EH-They can go to our website, http://www.newhopeswaziland.com where they’ll find a lot more information about how to buy this book and about how to sponsor a child or about how to become involved in sharing gifts and talents as a volunteer. MN-Just how bad is the AIDS epidemic in Swaziland? EH-One can hardly call it an epidemic. It is more like a pandemic. 8,000 children are orphaned by the disease each month. 42% of the population has the disease. The average life expectancy is 29 years. The adult population is diminishing to levels that leave thousands of children without any living relative. The result is that many children are left stranded, living alone in the abandoned, desolate homestead, living off insects, berries, and frogs, dropping out of school or with strangers who abuse them and use them as unpaid labor, providing a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs, but little else. MN- Is the government able to help the children, especially with schooling? EH-The governments of surrounding nations, such as South Africa and Botswana, have resources to provide child support of about US$120 monthly to their countries’ orphans living with relatives or strangers, but the Swaziland government is not able to do so and gives only US$10 monthly to some children. The government of Swaziland had announced that all

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6 orphan children would be sponsored to attend school through funds donated by UNICEF. But recently it was announced that these have dried up, and thousands of children were sent home before the end of the school year due to lack of funds to pay school fees. This adds to the loss of hope for the future for the children of Swaziland. MN-It sounds desperate. Do you have any hope that things can be better? EH-Oh, yes, and that’s why we’ve named our home New Hope Centre. We serve a mighty God, and what we have already accomplished here is amazing. What we have accomplished has been done by the power and leading of a mighty Heavenly Father who loves these children more than any human could. I’d like to remind listeners that the task of saving Africa’s orphans seems formidable until we realize that if each of us would just do what we can—give, pray, volunteer—one child might be saved and trained, and that child might become the leader who turns the destiny of Swaziland and other African nations. The only thing I want readers to do today is ask God what he wants them to do.

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Stranded Wendy Davy ASIN: B005PA8P52

~~~~~ The Lesson of the Sour Note by EE Kennedy © Dec. 2011

I had finished my morning quiet time and started my chores. Still, the thoughts and wisdom I'd gleaned from the Bible verses lingered with me, and I decided to express my gratitude in a song, "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

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I tend to be a kind of lukewarm soprano, but this time, I started a bit too high, and by the time I got to the highest part, "Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not," I--well, "screeched" is the only word for it--screeched on the top note. Right away, I had a mental image of a scene from the book of Job, where the devil accuses Job before God. But this time, the subject was me: The demon laughed with derision, "Listen to that awful sound!" I felt strange, embarrassed. Who was I to try to sing--and sing badly--before the Lord of Heaven, who could hear the angels' glorious singing all day long? A rumble of a Voice, as from thunder over the mountains, blew away the darkness.

(c)12/07/2011 EE Kennedy Read EE’s weekly column Behind the Mystery at our website!

~~~~~ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ~ Luke 2:14

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"Be still!" The Voice said, "My precious child is singing to Me!" I felt a warm Smile pour over me. I resumed singing, lowering the key a bit and doing my very best. Sometimes we forget that He not only loves us, but He like us..... He treasures our company, just as we treasure the company of our own children. He loves seeing us be happy, doing the things He has planned for our very best and most joyous welfare. And it warms His Heart deeply when we remember to say, "Thank You." Or sing it. Can't carry a tune in a bucket? Don't worry. Your Heavenly Father hears with His Heart.

Zinovy’s Journey Ginny Jacques Millennium Journeys Press (March 16, 2012) ASIN: B007LP2G5E When the world ends, Zinovy’s journey begins... ZINOVY EFIMOVICH KOZLOV is a self-made man who’s spent the last twenty-three years climbing the ladder of Russian military success, one rung at a time. An FSB veteran, member of the elite Special Security Service, and now a cosmonaut on the global regime’s new International Space Station, he should be at the peak of his career. But Zinovy has enemies whose political power extends into space, and those enemies are determined to kill him. Then the earth is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and everything changes.

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The Christmas Visitor by: Jan Cline The Christmas I was eight will always be the most memorable holiday for me. My sister and I had helped put the tinsel on the tree, stirred the fudge pot for Mom, and finished wrapping our modest gifts for each other. All the family Christmas traditions had been set in motion. But, I remember sensing things were not quite right at our house this year. Dad had been ill off and on, making a few unexplained trips to the hospital. Mom also had “spells” of not feeling well. I was old enough to be worried about my parents, and couldn’t help noticing the season wasn’t as joyous this year as it should have been. We lived in a small town in California, in a twobedroom track home. Typical middle class families populated our block. The sidewalks were always littered with bikes and roller-skates. Some families formed close friendships. Other neighbors we never knew well—no more than to wave hello as we headed out the door for work and school. The Montgomery family lived next door to us. Although mostly keeping to themselves, they could always be counted on if there was a need in the neighborhood. Mr. Montgomery was a large grey haired man who never said much, but his wife always shared a kind word from across the driveway. She would occasionally send one of the children over with a freshly baked pie or loaf of bread. One particular night the true spirit of Christmas graced our humble home. It was late in the evening. I had bundled up in my pajamas and robe, ready for one last TV show in the living room before bedtime. Dad sat on the couch flipping through the newspaper as he usually did

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

in the evenings. My sister sat in on the other end of the couch reading a book. Mom stood at the dining table just off the living room wrapping last minute gifts. The only conversation was the crackling in the fireplace and the sound of laughter from the Ed Sullivan TV audience. A thunderous pounding at the front door made us all jump. Before any of us could stop shaking or get up to see what the racket was all about, a larger than life Santa burst through the front door. Dressed in full regalia of red suit, white hair, long beard, and black shinny boots, his eyes sparkled as he thrust himself through the doorway. “Just checking! Merrr-ry Christmas!” His gruff voice bellowed through the house. Then, as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared, slamming the door behind him. I glanced over at my dad who was frozen in place with his mouth wide open. Our eyes wide with surprise, none of us moved for several minutes. Mom finally managed a “what in the world?” Dad could only shrug and shake his head. I was both frightened half out of my mind and delighted beyond words. Any doubts I entertained about the existence of Santa disappeared in the cold night air with the visitor. I was sure he had stopped by to check on me— making sure I was deserving of all the gifts I had asked for. All the naughty things I had done that year suddenly flashed before my eyes, and I worried I may not have scored high on the good girl meter. I don’t really remember what happened the rest of the evening. But I do know that the visit from Santa brightened our Christmas more than he could have known. The spirit of Christmas came alive for us through his kindness. The spark, or should I say explosion, of cheer was enough to remind our family of the gifts of thoughtfulness, generosity and joy. There were only a few more Christmases with my dad. He died of cancer a few years later. My parents had chosen to keep the seriousness of his illness from me. No one wanted to ruin Christmas. Years later, safely into the age of reason, I learned the identity of the Santa imposter. It was

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Mr. Montgomery. He had returned home from a church Christmas party where he was the star attraction. Before going into his house that night, he couldn’t resist the urge to pay a quick visit to our family. You see Mr. Montgomery knew about my dad’s illness. I will be forever grateful for that impulsive act, and for the blessing of a warm Christmas memory. ©2011 Jan Cline *Reprinted with Permission

for more. Not only are we questioning what will happen to McKenzie but we are faced with the same life-changing questions that we ourselves must answer. The compelling and mysterious McKenzie stories will appeal to a wide range of people from diverse cultures and countries. Everyone will identify in some way with him, but just who is McKenzie, and why did author Peter Stanway write this book to reach those who are not Christians?

Jan Cline is a freelance writer, speaker and singer from Spokane, Washington. She has had numerous articles and short stories published. She is founder and director of the Inland Northwest Christian Writers conference in Spokane. Jan’s website is www.jancline.net and her blog can be found at http://janclinewriter.blogspot.com

MN-Although full of adventure, Who Is McKenzie has a deeper message. Tell me about your purpose in writing the book.

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White Christmas by Tanya Stowe Pelican Book Group (White Rose Publishing) ASIN: B006G5EH2K

~~~~~ Interview with Peter Stanway by Mary Nichelson © Dec 2011

Who Is McKenzie? In this introduction to the McKenzie series, we travel the globe and enter into the fascinating world of McKenzie. In an intriguing and breathtaking diversity of adventures, the central character, McKenzie, goes through many spiritual and emotional experiences; some amazingly good, others frighteningly bad. Page by page we are captivated and left feeling hungry

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PS-My purpose in writing, ‘Who is McKenzie?’ is primarily to reach unsaved, unchurched, nonChristians. However, I also believe that Christians who read ‘Who is McKenzie?’ will begin to probe under the surface of their own faith and discover a deeper faith that will be both enriching and fulfilling. It is my hope and prayer that every reader will connect with the stories and the character of McKenzie and that they will follow him into his spiritual experiences too. Just as McKenzie asks himself searching questions, I pray that the reader will do the same. I pray that the answers they find will connect them with Jesus Christ in a lifechanging way. MN-The main character McKenzie is multifaceted and one men and women will easily relate to. Briefly describe who McKenzie is and what he represents. PS-The McKenzie character represents aspects of all of us, that is, aspects of every human being. He is a champion for good, a risk-taker for the greater good. He has to deal with danger, threats and unadulterated evil. His morals are challenged. He has to conquer fear and temptation. He also has to deal with the mundane and the ordinary. More and more, McKenzie has to look outside of himself for answers and for help. MN-Several times in the four Gospels, the disciples became involved in passionate debatesto the point of arguing-related to their perception of religious issues. We see this today with overzealous believers when, for the right reasons, they use the wrong approach and offend instead of defend. How would you advise believers to approach evangelism to reach the unchurched?

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PS-Firstly, be interested in the person you are talking to, not only in their salvation, but in them as a person. Listen to what they say and respond with genuine understanding. When sharing your faith, keep it simple with no Christian jargon. Avoid that ‘church language’ reserved for ‘spiritual’, or, worse still, ‘religious’ people. Avoid religiosity. Be real, make a friend. MN-Your passion is in reaching the unchurched. Is that a fair statement? PS-My passion is ‘to make disciples out of Christians’. This is the Great Commission. However, in doing this, it is often necessary to first visit Christ at Calvary and that can be with a church group of ‘Christians’ or an unchurched group of heathens. Jesus is coming back for a church that is prepared to go with Him to the Wedding Banquet. A bride that is wholly head over heals in love with the bridegroom Jesus. A people who are ready to spend eternity with the lover of their soul. Jesus and I want to see as many people as possible saved, baptised in the Holy Spirit with all cylinders firing who, in turn, will do all that they can to plunder hell and populate heaven before it’s too late.

10 MN-Complete this sentence-In the year 2012, I hope to.... PS-....finish writing ‘McKenzie’s Companion’. Chapter-by-chapter, ‘McKenzie’s Companion’ follows and explains more fully the spiritual context of the circumstances and implications that surround McKenzie in ‘Who is McKenzie?’. ‘McKenzie’s Companion’ is for those who want to delve deeper into the Word of God. I also want to sell our current ministry base at Kilcreggan House and relocate to a new, more efficient, ministry base nearer to the family. In 2012, I hope to revisit many of The Way Christian Ministries’ leaders located in our Training for Life Centres around the world and to fully prepare and successfully launch my first in a series of ‘art events’ in Granada, Spain in October. Visit Peter’s website to learn more. Who Is McKenzie will be released in MidDecember and can be purchased at http://www.peterstanwaybooks.com/buy.html

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MN-In your book titled Wee Boys From Glasgow Don’t Cry, you chronicled your journey through a liver transplant. How are you doing now? PS-My liver transplant was on April 7th 2000 and I am doing just great, thank you. Praise God! MN-What is your 10avourite memory of 2011? PS-great many good things happened in 2011 but something that has given me particular joy has been the opening-up of France and Spain to my ministry. I look forward to see this development strengthen and expand in the years ahead and having my first book published, ‘Wee Boys from Glasgow Don’t Cry’, was definitely a highlight. MN-How will the Stanway household celebrate Christmas this year? PS-We will gather as many of our family around us for a huge Christmas meal with all the trimmings. We have five children and six grandchildren and we love having them visit.

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The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt’s Wood by Kathleen Valentine ASIN: B0069A25CG

~~~~~ The Christmas Dream by Scott Higginbotham © December 2011 Friendship began with a clamor of camel hooves. Again, Moishe was a mysterious man. He dressed as a pauper, though the fact that he owned camels and had servants said otherwise as I was introduced his men. Moishe’s servants slowly led my horse, which was tied to a slower moving packhorse; we left them choking in our dust.

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I held on for dear life as Moishe whistled and hollered in an unintelligible tongue, while the camel galloped forward in a rolling gait. We exited the hills that sloped down to the Jordan and picked up speed. Moishe was laughing like a child, strange man that he was. Dust swirled in great clouds behind us as Moishe kept up his lively conversation with the camels. He cajoled and howled excitedly and affectionately; I sensed that the beasts returned the affection through their guttural snorts. I was ebullient. “Do you see how the birds fly and are buffeted by the wind, Hugh?” he yelled over the pounding of hooves. Looking skyward, I noticed that the birds appeared to roll on an ocean of air, undulating as the wind shifted and sputtered. “Moishe, we’re flying!” I knew horses and was familiar with their movements. However, a camel had an unexpected grace. “That is why I pointed out the birds, Hugh,” he replied, slapping my camel’s flanks into a renewed burst of speed. The warm breeze caressed our faces, the scent of exotic fruit filled my senses, and I could only close my eyes and dream, dream that I was flying away from my past. We rode on at this pace until the camels began to tire. As we rounded a bend, a line of date palms stood sentry on opposing sides of a well-worn path leading up to the kind of home that wealthy merchants owned. The walls were decorative, yet functional for defense. Grapevines snaked through trellis ladders, while birds darted to and fro. Everything was bright and cheery. War had not arrived here and I prayed that it never would. I felt as though I had entered another world. The flight high atop a camel’s hump swelled my soul with an emotion I had not felt in some time. Joy was a scarce commodity for Crusaders. I had grown too used to privations and lack, death and disease, and screams of the dying.

11 my stay, I had become a pupil of sorts. I owned nothing, except my horse, armor and weapons, but I was slowly beginning to realize that Moishe was grooming me for something greater. He often repeated that I wasn’t ready. Ready for what? “You will know when it is time,” he said many times, quite cryptically. So it was during Christmastide, in the Year of Grace, 1099, that Moishe led me to a quiet hillside near Bethlehem. It was nighttime and the stars lit the heavens in the way I always imagined it had on that blessed night. A warm fire dispelled the chill. “Here is where they say the angels heralded the birth of the Savior, Hugh. This exact spot perhaps. Do you know the rest?” I was neither scholar nor monk, but I knew bits and pieces of the Christmas story. “The angel said, ‘For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ When the shepherds heard and saw the angels glorifying God, they made haste to see the Christ child.” “Think upon that as you sleep,” Moishe said. “I shall tarry at prayer, then join you at the fire.” I settled down to sleep, listening to the crackle of logs. Moishe rested his back against a rock, eyes closed, muttering through his prayers. I arose at the sound of a voice. My instincts propelled me to my feet, my hand resting on the hilt of my sword. The night was quiet. In the far distance, a shimmering city beckoned me forward. As I closed the distance, the voice became clearer. The outline of a soldier came into view. “Surrender to me, Hugh.” There was no hostility in his voice, nor malice in his demeanor. He was a knight like I had been, clad in a surcoat, sword at his side. But he was wounded. His wounds bespoke strength. “Why should I yield? Are we at odds?” “We are, my child,” he replied.

The months flew by, akin to my journey here. Moishe had named it Istalan, and throughout

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“What have I done to offend you? Who are

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you?”

the ages,” Max opined.

The man seemed familiar. And how did he know my name? My pride would not let me yield.

“Despair and redemption . . . ”

His response was his upturned palms. His wrists had been pierced. A stain had begun to spread on his side, while a trickle of blood snaked from his brow into his beard. He removed his helm and held it in his hands, as one would an offering. “Surrender to me, Hugh.” And then I awoke. I rose, walked a short way down the slope, and gazed out over the expanse before me, imagining shepherds, angels, and wonders scarcely dreamed. A tear escaped and trickled down my jaw line. Pulling my sword out of my scabbard, I held it high with both hands, then plunged it down into the earth, killing my past. I knelt and prayed, rising only when my plea was finished. Moishe looked on expectantly, smiling, still reclining against the rock. I arose and stood over my friend, searching for words. When they formed, I said, “That’s where I died, Moishe.” “And where is that? At the point of a sword?”

“And how have these stories been speaking to you?” Brother Mark put in. He had glided in silently and was standing behind them. They both grinned at their host. Brother Mark remained impassive. “Is our monkish friend having fun at our expense?” Rachel asked, cocking her head to the side. “Monks do not make fun, Rachel.” “Uh huh, sure,” she sent back. “Anyway, the stories reach inside of us, as though the author knew that the future would need them,” Max said. Brother Mark stroked his chin thoughtfully. “When it was a castle, Mansfield Manor owned the lands our priory resides on. There was a man who came into ownership of the castle and lands, and some would say that he saw the future, as it were, so much so that it seemed as though he knew that the world could benefit from timeless truths.” Just then, Rachel’s phone began to vibrate. It was their newfound friends . . .

“No . . . ’tis not a sword any longer.” “You speak as I do, with riddles.” “You have it coming, Moishe,” I remarked wryly, not ignoring the weight of the moment. “You know what it is, right?” “I do,” he replied quietly. My sword was in the cruciform style and became a reasonable representation of a cross when plunged by the tip into the ground. At its foot is where I died, where I left Jerusalem and all that I thought would save my soul. I won through my surrender. ~~~~ “I love the way he thinks, Rachel. He goes to the core, and speaks in a way that resonates across

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

Scott Higginbotham has a passion for fiction that goes beyond simple entertainment. His writing informs, instructs, and encourages readers with his signature style. He holds a B.S. in Marketing and an MBA, and is finishing an MA in Apologetics at Luther Rice Seminary. Visit his blog and find him on Facebook Scott’s books, For A Thousand Generations and A Soul’s Ransom are available on Amazon for the Kindle! Both novels feature engaging plots,

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dramatic scenes, and vivid characters that live their faith. They are just like us.

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Hearts Key by Marianne Evans ASIN: B0063GJS4Y

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My Christmas Miracle by Mary Nichelson ©Dec 2011 In November of 2008, our oldest son left Atlanta on an airplane destined for Chicago. He had enlisted in the Navy and would begin boot camp as soon as the plane landed. When we said our goodbyes, I cried, knowing it could be weeks before hearing anything from him. I knew he would be alright. I also knew I would feel empty until I heard his voice again. This happened to be the same year that I threw out a challenge to God. I had never been part of a Christmas miracle and secretly wished something would happen this year, especially since I was feeling so down about our son leaving. I told God if miracles really happened at Christmas, make me a recipient. Weeks passed and I practically lived by the phone. I refused to leave the house just in case it was the one time our son would be allowed to make a call home. I connected with other Navy

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

moms going through the same thing, and realized that placing life on hold hoping to hear the phone ring was normal. Whenever someone would get that first call, they would alert the other Moms hoping to ignite a little hope that just maybe, they would hear soon, too. One particular Sunday morning I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home while my husband took the rest of the family to church. When they returned, my husband spoke words that literally crushed my spirit. He happened to glance down at his cell phone while walking through the church parking lot and saw “missed call” on his screen. When he tried to check the number, he saw “out of area”. I collapsed on the bed and started crying. I knew it was our son and I knew he wouldn’t get another chance to call for at least another week-maybe longer. I refused to join the family at the dinner table, and instead, lay across my bed and cried until there were no tears left. Within 30 minutes, I felt a peace come over me as if the whole thing had never happened. I heard words in my spirit that said “he will get another chance to call home.” I argued with it, reasoning that liberty was over at noon, and he would be busy and unable to call again until the following weekend. After all, I listened to what the other Navy moms were saying and knew this possibility was not possible. Again, I felt impressed that he would be able to call home, but continued my argument why it wasn’t feasible. Before I could cycle through this intellectual wrestling match a third time, my cell phone rang. I looked at the display and saw “out of area”. I cautiously reached for it and answered with a questioning “hello?” “Is this Mrs. Nichelson?” I verified that I was. “Just one minute” the mysterious voice said. “Hello, Mom?” I began crying as relief and joy wrapped itself as a blanket around me. It was our son. For the next 15 minutes, I cherished everything he said, how he said it, the sound of his laughter, and especially the way he said “Mom”. No one can convince me that call was a fluke or coincidence. Our son had been the only one to pass inspection and since he hadn’t been able to talk to my husband earlier, he was allowed a personal phone call from his division commander’s office as a reward. From the stories shared by other Navy Moms, recruits do

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not get two opportunities in the same day to make phone calls. I knew the only reason this happened was because I had prayed for a Christmas miracle. Miracles take place when someone is in need of something no one but God can provide. That was me. And to know that God cared enough about this Mom to manipulate a lost call to show that miracles still happen, well, it’s just humbling and overwhelming. For the last three years, as fall turns into the holiday season, I am reminded of the goodbyes we said as our son left. But I am also in awe of how the boot camp experience provided the perfect opportunity for God to prove he is still in control. Always.

Mary is an avid reader, writer, editor and selfproclaimed advocate for the authors that make Christian publishing the great industry it is. She supports publishers by interviewing authors and promoting their new releases, as well as upholding a standard of ethics that defines the word “Christian”. Her passion is to see the publishing business excel by promoting literature that speaks to our generation without compromise. She is the host of Marysworld Internet radio talk show, maintains a website affiliated with several publishers, and is a member of the Evangelical Press Association. (EPA) Mary's World Website & Blog Friend Mary on FB

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©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias ISBN-13: 978-1596693289

~~~~~ Interview with Deanne Gist by Mary Nichelson © Dec 2011

Who can forget Tillie Reese and Mack Danver from Deanne Gist’s novel Maid to Match? While employed by George Vanderbilt at the lavish Biltmore Estate, they meet, fall in love, and ride off into the North Carolina sunset. Thankfully, it wasn’t that simple or the 360 page novel could have been written in less than 100; however, readers appreciated Gist spinning the fictional tale around many factual elements, making Maid to Match the rich romance that it became. If asked, I’m confident fans would admit that Christmas at Biltmore was one of their favorite parts of the story. When asked, Gist had no problem revisiting elements of the book and reflecting on her characters. Christmas at Biltmore, or anywhere for that matter, is not about receiving, but about giving and Gist is strongly attached to the idea of servant hood, period. MN-Tillie realizes that servant hood is the same whether in a lavish setting or substandard environment. In a memorable scene, she told her parents that she had focused too long on money and status. We see that in our generation; the preoccupation with wealth, success and power while ignoring those in need except perhaps during the holidays. How can we be more sensitive to the needs of others year round? DG- The thing I try to do is catch myself if I am objectifying someone. Now, I often times find myself having angry feelings when I see a police officer hiding on the side of the road just waiting to catch someone speeding. If I don't deal with it, that anger eventually spills over onto any police officer I see anywhere in any situation. Not good. In order to diffuse the anger, I remind myself the officer has a family--brothers, sisters, maybe a spouse and children, and maybe even a relationship with Christ. No matter who it is I've desensitized myself to--whether it be those in need, those in power, or the person next to me in the checkout line--I try to remember they are a person who has struggles and joys. Then I bend

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Dec 2011 Issue my ear to the Spirit. Sometimes He leads me to do no more than look the person in the eye and smile. Other times, He leads me to do much more.

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MN- If you could play host to an elaborate Christmas celebration that centered on serving others-much as the Vanderbilts did-what would that celebration look like? DG- This is too big a question to answer casually. I'd have to pray about it and see what the Lord lead me to do. MN-If Mack and Tillie were alive today, what children's charity would they most likely be involved in? DG- There are so many opportunities to minister to children in need. My hope for Mack & Tillie would be that they would ask the Lord for guidance, investigate their various options, and then spend time in prayer. Once He pointed them in a particular direction, I would then hope they'd be fully and joyfully committed. MN- At the end of the book, Mack serves Tillie in an unusual way. "Tonight, I will be your lady's maid, and I will do for you what you have done countless times for others" he proclaims. As a woman, what act of service would you like to be the recipient of that you have done countless times to others? DG- I think part of serving is to do it without expecting anything in return. That's my litmus test. If I am serving in order to receive something back--even if that something is a simple thank-you--then I know it's time to reexamine my motives. God loves a cheerful giver. And I've found that when I give/serve cheerfully it takes my focus off myself and shifts it onto others and onto God. It's one of the greatest blessings of being His servant. MN- Your favorite Christmas present as a child would be? DG- I am very thankful the Lord provided me with a secure, Christian home growing up. That is one of the greatest gifts I received as a child. If you were looking for a specific toy, I would say a Barbie dollhouse. I loved Barbies. I spent hours making up romantic stories between my Barbie and Ken dolls. Imagine that.

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

The Necklace by Amy Corwin ASIN: B004I6D2PC

~~~~~ Work Your Simple Plan by Terry Whalin © December 2011

From time to time, I’ve had author envy. I look at someone’s twitter following with thousands of people or the thousands of subscribers to their blog or newsletter, and I wish it could happen to me. Or I read about a bestselling book and wonder why my books haven’t achieved such a level of success. Envy sprouts into my mind and heart, and I begin to grow jealous of another author’s success. Then I pull myself up short. I’ve interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors. Repeatedly I’ve learned there are few overnight success stories. Most authors who spring to the top of the bestseller list have been in the trenches for years growing their presence in the marketplace. Every author has to take action and begin building their presence in the market. I do not believe there is a magic formula, but there are tried and true methods that, when used consistently, will help you. Recently I was listening to the audio version of Jack Canfield’s bestselling book, The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The book is full of insight. Success Principle #13 is Take Action. He writes, “Most people are familiar with the phrase, ‘Ready, aim, fire!’ The problem is that too many people spend their whole life aiming and never firing. They are always getting ready, getting it perfect. The quickest way to hit a target is to fire, see where the bullet landed, and then adjust your aim accordingly. If the hit was 2 inches above the

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target, lower your aim a little. Fire again. See where it is now. Keep firing and readjusting. Soon you are hitting the bull’s-eye.” (Page 103) Recently I was meeting with an unpublished author who had written about a 400-page Christian fantasy. He gave me a copy of his novel to read and recognized that he is an unknown writer. Like many people he wondered what steps to take to enter the publishing business and change from being unknown to being known.

of them). As you repurpose your material in this way, you will become known as an expert in your particular area of the market..

These steps are not a quick fix and will take ongoing time and effort. The good news is that with the Internet and regular effort it can be done with a minimal financial investment. Here are ten simple steps.

As you work this simple plan, you will be surprised with the results just like the bestselling author who took 20 years to become an overnight success. A seemingly innocent event set off the unplanned chain of events and propelled the author to recognition. You are the best person to promote yourself, but you have to take action. Work your simple plan and it can happen. I’ve seen it over and over.

1. Pick a good domain name—a dot com. How do you want to be known? Pick that for your domain name. What is your area of expertise? If you write Christian fantasy, select something you can brand and promote. A domain name will cost about $7.49 a year at GoDaddy (http://bit.ly/wtwgod) —and always look for a coupon as you check out.

9. Get a free copy of my 43-page Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. Read this book and take action. 10. Take action over and over—consistently and regularly to build your brand. It will pay off and you will build your presence and become known.

2. Get a Hostgator account (http://bit.ly/gt9iKK). Most writers can get along for $4.95 to $7.95 a month. This system is powerful and inexpensive. 3. On your Hostgator account, start a Word Press blog (not a free one but one you set up). The tools are free and because you are hosting it, you don’t have the restrictions of the free Word Press account. Then post several times a week on your topic that you want to brand 4. Start a Twitter account with your brand name and post only on that topic—link to articles about it and other things to draw readers 5. Also post to your Facebook about this topic— automatically repeat your tweets.

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and publisher lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. A former acquisitions editor, former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. To help writers, he has created 12-lesson online course called Write A Book Proposal. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com.

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6. Join forums on this topic. At first, watch, and then participate with solid content about the topic at hand—and emphasizing your topic. You will become known as a thoughtful expert. 7. Eventually begin a newsletter with your blog posts—repurpose them into a newsletter and encourage people to subscribe to it. 8. Repurpose your blog posts to Internet articles and post to the free articles sites (there are many

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

Christmas Spirit by Amy Corwin

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ASIN: B005Z2J88I

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My daughter had understood where a baby belonged, even a baby who was God. Jesus was a person, who felt pain, need, hunger, and longed for loving arms, like every other human child. That’s how He understands what we go through in life, because He has been there, too.

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Baby Jesus by: Ellen Kennedy ©Dec 2011

It was Christmas, and I wanted to be sure that our three-year-year old daughter understood what it was all about, so I bought an inexpensive crèche scene with little plastic figures that couldn't be broken if she wanted to touch them. I warned her firmly that these were special figures, however, not toys to ride around in plastic cars or swing in her miniature FisherPrice playground. The Baby Jesus could be snapped out of the manger like a pop-it bead, but, while she could touch Him, He should remain in the little stable house. She seemed to understand. One day while Laurie was napping, I glanced at the crèche and noticed that Baby Jesus was missing from the manger. Oh, no, I thought, He's probably tangled in the bottom of one of her plastic toy tubs, or encased in Play-doh, a fate shared by other tiny dolls. My effort to teach Laurie some reverence had been a failure. When she approached the crèche later that day, I said, a little sternly, "I'm going to have to put it away. The Baby Jesus is lost."

Southern Superstitions BJ Robinson ISBN#: 978-1-61252-130-5

~~~~~ Interview with Serena Miller by Mary Nichelson © Dec 2011

You may know Serena Miller as the author of the unforgettable novel “The Measure of Katy Calloway” that released in October of this year. But what you might not know is that she lives close to an Amish community and is working on several writing projects, including a sequel to Katy Calloway. In fact, Miller states, “This is actually going to be a three-part stand alone series, all set in the north woods of Michigan, and loosely tied in with the people you just met in the lumber camp." Readers will have to wait patiently for that second installment, though, as it is not due for release until October 2012. In the meantime, I asked Miller how she would be celebrating Christmas this year, and she dished on her favorite holiday side dish, what Christmas morning is like in the Miller household, and the one gift she would want most this year.

"No, He's not, Mommy," my little girl said. She pointed a tiny finger to the Mary figure, who stood with her arms adoringly outstretched.

MN-Does the fact that you live in Ohio make is easy for you to write of the winter season?

There, somewhat precariously balanced in His mother's arms, was Baby Jesus.

SM-Yes, but I took the winter scenes from Katie Calloway from my eighteen years of living in Michigan. There is a snow belt that includes the

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

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Dec 2011 Issue Saginaw Valley that beats anything I’ve ever experienced here in southern Ohio. MN-As the reader digests The Measure of Katie Calloway, they partake in a buffet of sights and smells that are tantalizing. Describe what your house looks and smells like on Christmas morning. SM- Honestly? Oh Mary, I really, really want to describe a magazine-perfect Christmas morning, but God says I’m not supposed to lie, so…. Since we always celebrate on Christmas Eve, a typical Christmas morning at the Miller house basically resembles a train wreck. Wrapping paper/bows/gifts debris all over the living room floor, dishes piled in the sink from the feast the night before, overflowing trash cans, me stumbling downstairs bleary-eyed in the sweats I slept in, to find my husband gnawing on the leftover ham bone from the night before, while he waits for the coffee to perk. Then after we have our coffee cups clutched in our hands, one of us will look at the other and say something along the lines of “Wow, wasn’t that a great time we had!” After we’ve had our coffee and our eyes have begun to focus, my husband will say something like, “I’ll take over the dishes, you take over the trash.” MN-What is your favorite holiday tradition? SM-There is a state park about a thirty minute drive from us. It is a gorgeous place with a path that winds around various rocky outcroppings, a beautiful river, and huge trees. It feels primeval—especially when there is snow blanketing everything. Because it is Christmas day, absolutely no one is ever there and we have about a thousand acres to ourselves. I pack a thermos of cocoa and some sandwiches. Then we grab any stray relatives who want to go with us, along with our kids and grandkids, and we go hiking in the midst of God’s handiwork. We’ve done this for years. MN-How do you keep materialism from saturating your Christmas? SM-We reinvented Christmas gift-giving. Instead of trying to buy just the right gift for one another and stressing over it, we sat down as a family and had a heart-to-heart about the waste and worry and pressure this tradition was on us. One daughter-in-law confessed that it was very hard for her to shop for gifts for everyone else in the family when there were so many things she

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

18 and her children needed but couldn’t afford. Since money was tight for all of us, we decided to experiment for one Christmas season. None of the adults exchanged gifts. Instead, each of us took what money we could afford to spend and purchased one special item for ourselves that we really, really wanted. There were only three rules: The gift had to be kept a complete secret from everyone else, we couldn’t wear it or play with it before Christmas, and we had to wrap it and put it under the tree. The two small grandkids were exempt from this experiment, of course. For them, instead of showering them with too many grandparent toys, we simply gave their mother the money we would have spent and she chose exactly how much and what she felt they needed. We were all a little nervous about this huge change in our family tradition. We didn’t know if it would “feel” like Christmas, but it turned out to be the best Christmas we ever had! It was SO interesting (and sometimes funny) to discover what each person, deep down, had been wanting. I could not have predicted even one of the gifts my children bought themselves. Not one penny was wasted. The cost to all of us went way down. No one maxed out their credit cards. No one was under any pressure. That was five years ago, and we’ve never looked back. MN-What is your favorite Christmas song? SM-Nothing compares, in my mind, to the majestic words and music to “Oh, Holy Night.” MN-Your favorite Christmas dish? SM-My sister’s homemade egg-noodles with stewed chicken poured over a mound of mashed potatoes. It was our mother’s signature dish, and there’s no real recipe. I think maybe you have to have been a little girl standing beside Mom as she made it, to get it just right. Frankly, I can pretty much eat myself stupid on chicken eggnoodles and mashed potatoes. MN-You write a sentimental version of a Christmas celebration in less than perfect conditions. Was there a time that you were forced to make the best of a less than perfect Christmas? SM- Oh yes. My husband and I spent last Christmas in the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus Ohio, watching our family celebrate

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Christmas via Skype. He had been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of bone cancer and was in there for a bone marrow transplant. He was so terribly sick, and not always lucid. Our personal Christmas consisted of me opening up a box of inexpensive jewelry I had bought, and a book I had purchased for him. I remember that he was too weak from the chemo to open it himself. The nurses in that isolated wing of the hospital had made some homemade gifts for the patients, and I had brought some of my autographed books to give to them. I remember looking out the window of that hospital room for hours, watching the people walking by all busy with Christmas errands, while I prayed and prayed for a Christmas miracle. MN-Have you ever been part of a Christmas miracle? SM-Have I ever! My husband’s bone marrow transplant was a complete, utter success. He is now in full remission. The brilliant, caring, doctor who brought this about, says that with proper daily meds, he will be able to live a full and productive life for at least another ten or even twenty years. Since he is already sixty-one, that is a terrific prognosis to hear. He is working full-time again and feeling well. MN-Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without? SM-Whether it’s Christmas or any other day, I would not want to get out of bed in the morning without the hope and strength of a resurrected Jesus. MN-What would you most like for Christmas this year? SM-For my oldest son to come safely home from Afghanistan. That’s the only present I want. You can learn more about author Serena Miller by visiting http://www.serenabmiller.com.

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A Rose Before Dying by Amy Corwin ASIN: B00557U2QU

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Who’s your Santa? by Dawn Kidd © 12/22/2011

"But Jesus said, suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 19:14 As I was shopping in the store last night, I overheard a mother's conversation with her son. He must have been around ten or eleven years old. My ears perked as I heard, "Mom, I do not believe in Santa, so will you just stop treating me like a baby?". As I glanced her way, I could see that her heart was crushed. She mumbled, "You have lost the magic, son." It was sad for many reasons. My children still believe in Santa, at least they tell me they do. I sometimes think I receive more joy watching them on Christmas morning than I receive all year long. To watch as they still believe in a part of Christmas that many children have attempted to make them forget. Upon waking this morning, I pray that with the passing of this Christmas and in the years to come, my children may lose their belief in Santa, but I hope they do not lose their relationship with God. He brings gifts each day to them......hope, love, grace and mercy. They do not have to wait for one day each year to accept God's everlasting and faithful love. I want them to allow God into their hearts each day and start each morning with his word. I wear many hats...wife, mother, sister,

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

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daughter, cousin, friend, and yes, even Santa's helper. So, who is YOUR Santa? Who brings you the joy in your life? Are you settling for the "one day a year" Santa or are you the child of a King who gives each day, each hour, each minute, each second?

parents had sacrificed a lot to make sure I always had something on Christmas Day and my birthday. It would have devastated them to know their little girl no longer believed. My charade continued for a couple more years until tragedy struck our family.

My prayer today is that you never lose the childlike magic of Christmas and your heart will remain childlike for Jesus. May we always accept the true meaning of Christmas all year long!

In 1972 my dad’s father passed away and soon afterward my father had a debilitating stroke. I realized then that Christmas and my birthdays would never be the same. I wasn’t expecting anything under the tree or even a birthday present, but on that very bleak Christmas morning the tree was filled with presents from “Santa,” and two days later on my twelfth birthday my parents went all out. I didn’t understand how they managed to provide so many gifts that year, except through their love for me.

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Daffodils by Donna B. Snow ASIN: B004XJ60H6

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On Christmas Morning by: Debra Ann Elliott In Alabama, snow is a rare occurrence and even more rare on Christmas Day. I grew up poor, but rich from the love of my parent’s. My birthday happened to be two days after Christmas. I always knew somehow my parent’s would find a way to make sure not only would Christmas be special each year, but my birthday would be as well. I was about ten when I stopped believing in Santa. I didn’t inform my parents. They were kind and loving; I didn’t want to hurt them. My

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

I didn’t have anything to give them in return except my love and the truth. I could no longer hide the fact that I didn’t believe in Santa from them. Of course they were hurt, but they understood their baby was growing up. With my dad incapacitated, my family struggled through a few more “not knowing” Christmases. Then in 1975 tragedy struck again. My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had put my birthdays on the back burner. I was old enough by then to grasp that my parents really barely had enough money to survive. My father was dying, and in my heart I knew this would probably be our last Christmas together. It would be the last birthday I would spend with my dad. I don’t remember what I received that year, but I was just happy to have my dad. Four months later on April 28, 1976, my father passed away. When he died I had resigned myself to not celebrate anymore Christmases or birthdays. The birthday approaching would be my Sweet 16, but it would only be bittersweet without daddy. I withdrew into my own world. My mother tried to cheer me up and get me in the Christmas spirit, but I wouldn’t have any of it. My daddy was gone and I wasn’t going to celebrate another Christmas without him. To me Christmas and birthdays were about family, and in my mind I no longer had a family. I had lost all hope. A couple of days before Christmas I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed. I needed (wanted)

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Dec 2011 Issue some kind of sign from above. I needed to know my dad was watching over me. I asked the Lord for the impossible, or so I thought. Being from the South I understood the chance of snow on Christmas Day were slim. Snow didn’t exist on Christmas Day in Alabama. I prayed and asked the Lord to send a message from daddy. I asked for snow, not only for Christmas but for my sixteenth birthday. On Christmas Eve I listened to the weather report. No mention of snow in the forecast. I went to bed very upset and disappointed. I thought, Well, it’s a typical Christmas in the South. Little did I realize a few hours later it would be the Christmas that would give me hope and my daddy.

21 “Yes Debra, there is a Santa Claus, and miracles really do happen!” Debra is the author of Life Through the Rearview Mirror and Turning Leaves. She is also a contributing author for Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul, HURRAY GOD! HOPE PRAY BELIEVE, God Makes Lemonade: Stories That Sweeten and Inspire and Angel Digest. She is a member of Cahaba Christian Writers. To learn more visit her website. © 2011 Debra Ann Elliott *Reprinted with Permission

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Around midnight my mother came into my bedroom and woke me. “Baby doll, come look out the window.” My mind was fogged and I couldn’t understand why she awoke me. I followed her to the huge picture window in our living room. I pulled the curtain back and was surprised to see a few snow flakes falling. I hugged my mom and tears began to fall. Maybe my prayer had been answered after all. By mid-day the ground was covered in snow. I couldn’t fathom all the snow I was seeing. My yard looked like a winter wonderland. It was snowing in Alabama on Christmas Day! I had never really believed in miracles, especially after my father died. It was my answered prayer. It was a miracle. It continued to snow two more days which happened to be my sixteenth birthday. In my heart I knew my daddy had given me a special Christmas and birthday present sent from heaven. He knew I needed something special to show he was still with me, if only in my heart. This year I will turn fifty-one, and I still believe miracles can happen. From the birth of my children to the birth of my grandson I have experienced many miracles in my life, but the miracle I will never forget and always treasure is the one I received thirty-six years ago. The miracle of Alabama snow on Christmas Day showed me no matter what tragedy I faced in my young life there was always faith, hope, and love.

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

Beach Rental by Grace Greene ASIN: B005C14HBA

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Children For Christmas by: Alex Meryn My husband and I had been trying to adopt for almost eight years. We had wanted a big family, and we agreed that we’d have two and then ‘adopt a few.’ When our son was two, a miscarriage left me reluctant to try for another, so we decided to begin the adoption process through our local Children’s Aid Society. We started with such high hopes. We were a solid, stable, loving couple and good parents. We

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Dec 2011 Issue seriously considered several children at various times: a sweet little boy who had mild Cerebral Palsy, another who had had a tough time of it, a young boy on our son’s baseball team, a pair of adorable little brothers. But each time some quirky obstacle stopped us in our tracks. At one point, we had to delay our application due to the birth of our second child, a little girl. In the end, after seven years of an unbelievably emotional roller coaster ride, we called it quits. I wrote a strongly-worded six-page letter explaining our regrettable decision. I had my closure. Over the next few months, I was devastated. That closure felt like it was suffocating me. Every time I sat at my kitchen table, every car ride we took, every vacation, was pure torture for me. I couldn’t shake the horrible emptiness that screamed at me daily that half of my family was missing. The grief was overwhelming. I woke up one morning and needed a job. I hadn’t worked since our daughter was born five years earlier. She has Down Syndrome and I couldn’t bring myself to return to work. But on this day, suddenly, I had to get a job. I printed out a resume, dropped the kids off at school, and applied for a get-my-feet-wet kind of job at the Home Depot. Three days later, I was hired. When asked what had suddenly prompted my abrupt return to the workforce, I insisted I had no idea. But I was having fun and was enjoying the distraction. About four months later, I was told to go for my coffee-break, something I rarely needed, so rarely did. Rather than argue, I went. I wandered around the store and found myself in the plumbing aisle, somewhere I didn’t like to be since it was always full of customers, and I didn’t know a lot about plumbing. But there I was.

22 sisters placed with him in this foster family (I vaguely remembered seeing a little girl playing with ours at the very end of last season, but didn’t know there was a middle sister) and they were doing very well, also. We both gushed about this remarkable young man for some time, and I recalled what an impression he had made on me. Our whole team had missed him this summer. The foster mom then explained that their future wasn’t looking too promising at this point, however. Her family was feeling the strain of caring for three children, and Children’s Aid was considering moving them to a new home, which would likely mean splitting them up. I felt her concern for them, and shared my experience, shaking my head in confusion at a system that can’t seem to either match children to a good family like ours or find a solid situation for this great kid and his sisters. “It’s not like we don’t want more children,” I told them. “If someone showed up on our doorstep with one, three, five kids who needed a good home, we’d take them in a minute. We just can’t ride that ride anymore. That’s why we called it quits.” “That’s too bad,” the mom said plainly. “These guys are available for adoption next week.” Everything went quiet. At that moment, there were three people in the universe. And we were all standing there looking at each other as if we had never seen another person before. There was an electricity in the air that I could smell, and it felt like an eternity before I could speak. “You know we’d take them in a heartbeat.”

I turned the corner and bumped into a couple I hadn’t seen in about a year. They were the foster parents of the little boy we had asked about on our son’s baseball team. Both my husband and I had coached him over three summers, and I remember describing him as “one of those kids I wish was mine.” But he hadn’t come back to baseball this summer, and I immediately asked them about him. They beamed. He was doing just fine. They had had a renovation nightmare over the summer, so he had had to forgo baseball, but he was doing very well. He had managed to have his two

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

“There’s three of them.” “I know.” We came to an unspoken agreement in that moment. And all three of us knew that I was going to move mountains to get these kids. “Call me,” the mom said over her shoulder, as they turned to walk away. I think I managed to finish my shift, and I went home.

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Dec 2011 Issue My husband was making dinner, so I sat with him in the kitchen. “Guess who I ran into today at the Home Depot?” I threw at him. He shrugged. I told him as flatly as I could. “I love that kid.” “Me, too,” I agreed. Then I went out on a limb. I repeated my conversation with the foster parents to him, ending with “They’re available for adoption next week.” The words hung in the air like day-old balloons. I watched as he came to the same conclusion I had just hours before. “You want them?” he asked. I simply nodded. He took a deep breath. “On one condition.” I waited, unable to imagine what that condition could be. “We take all three. We’re not splitting them up.”

23 toothbrushes and haircuts, trying to figure out who would sleep where amongst the construction zone that our house had become in an attempt to make room for them in time. The celebration of Christmas itself was summed up with the announcement that the kids were all getting new brothers and sisters this year! On my way home from an early morning shift on Christmas Eve, I grabbed a marked down, prelit, 2-foot tall tree and plopped it on the coffee table declaring the house officially decorated. And then I fretted that there were no gifts. It was too late, and we were tapped out. A phone call asking me to sneak out to the corner store mid afternoon brought me out of my daze. I hopped in the car and met our adoption worker behind a big tree in the parking lot. She quickly transferred a huge lumpy garbage bag from her car to mine, hugged me with tears in her eyes, and wished me a Merry Christmas ’ere she drove out of sight. Our tiny little tree was buried beneath a mound of perfect gifts and stockings for each of our five children the next morning. Apparently all of those toys everyone donates at Christmas do go to good homes!

And just like that, the decision was made.

It was my most gift-filled Christmas ever, and I had no one to thank . . .

We made a lot of jokes that night about how much crow I was going to have to eat to get Children’s Aid to even speak to me again, but we both knew that we were back on our roller coaster and life would never be the same again.

We’ve had our adjustments, all seven of us. But after seven years, we’ve built a history together. The kids are no longer a group of two and a group of three; they are a group of five, and every day I am overwhelmed at how lucky I am.

I called CAS the following day; it was four days before the Labor Day weekend. They told us we had to start our application all over from scratch, but we worked relentlessly to push our approval through as quickly as possible. Once the decision had been made to go after these kids, the thought of them living away from me was unbearable.

And every Christmas, we relive the miracle of the season and family, with a joy that is impossible to fully describe.

The kids were told just before Hallowe’en, and we got to see them again for the first time in just over a year. That boy walked into my house and into my heart and I heard myself saying, “I can’t believe this one is mine.” They moved in the week before Christmas. We spent our week buying clothes and sheets and

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

Finally, all of my kids are home. © 2011 Alex Meryn *Reprinted with Permission

~~~~~ Meet Our New Featured Authors! Mary Manners ~All Rights Reserved


Dec 2011 Issue

24 at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al. Kathi is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency Find out more about Kathi by visiting her website.

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus. Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award and her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4 ½ star rating from The Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by The Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone. Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: and at her author pages @ Amazon & Pelican Book Group.

& Kathi Macias!

Kathi has a new ministry site! Titus 2 Women ~ The Scriptures call for the older women to mentor the younger women regarding the things of God. Though we seven ladies prefer to think of ourselves as “mature,” we are indeed older than many of you and have walked with the Lord for a lot of years. We have also spent many years in writing and speaking ministries, and we now feel called by God to offer our accumulated experience and wisdom to you, however and whenever we can. Join us!

~~~~~ We sincerely hope you enjoyed this edition of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine! Be sure and subscribe at our website so you can stay informed of all the great things happening @ TWJ as we strive to.... Publish His glorious deeds among nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. ~Psalms 96:3 As of Feb 2012 The Wordsmith Journal Magazine is owned & operated by Pamela S. Thibodeaux, Enterprises http://pamelathibodeaux.com

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 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

©2011 ~ The Wordsmith Journal

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The Wordsmith Journal Magazine; Dec 2011 Issue  

Established October 2011, The Wordsmith Journal is an online magazine geared to serve readers of Christian literature. Every month you'll fi...

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