Monday, December 21, 2009

Exciting New Stories and New Links Promoting Chirstmas Miracles Online

Christmas Miracles was featured on Digital Media!

Here are the links with notes from Craig von Buseck, D.Min. Director of Ministries.

"Poinsettias From God will be the top story on the Spiritual Life section of on December 18th. It was also be e-mailed as the top story to approximately 15,000 people who receive the Spiritual Life Bulletin e-newsletter.)

Miracle in the Storm

My First Christmas

All three stories have been posted to our special Christmas page. Here is that link:

Thank you again for your help in posting these stories. I know they will be a blessing to our audience. "

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Thank You, Amen" from Christmas Miracles

"Exploitive dermatitis," the doctor said. That was the best diagnosis my husband, Joe, received for his unexplained skin disease.

One night he went to bed and felt quite normal; the next morning he awoke with something broken out all over his body. It looked like a mix between measles, chicken pox, and psoriasis. The strange eruption covered every part of his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. As bad as that was, he itched constantly. He scratched himself so much that he had to wear gloves because the ends of his fingers had split open.

We took Joe to the clinic every week, hoping and praying each time that they could explain his skin disease. They tried every available medication on him. Nothing worked.

All through his ordeal, Joe never missed a day of work, and he didn't complain. "It came quickly overnight and it will go away just as quickly," he said several times.
I hoped he was right. I called it Job's disease. In the Bible it says that Job was struck "with terrible boils from head to foot" (Job 2:7.)

We learned about two other men in our area with a similar disease. We wished we hadn't. One committed suicide and they admitted the other to what they called an asylum in those days.

On September 23, 1970, my parents visited to welcome home my medical doctor brother, David, and his wife. David had completed his tour of army duty in Germany.

After an enjoyable evening together Joe stood up. "I'm not feeling well." He excused himself and went down the hallway to our bedroom.

"Liz! Liz!" he screamed not long after that.

I ran toward him. "I'm coming—"

"Get David and come quickly!"

David and I rushed to the master bedroom. David examined Joe quietly and efficiently. "I'm sorry to tell you, but you're having a heart attack."
We arranged for relatives to stay with our three children and rushed Joe to the hospital. At the emergency room, David identified himself as a medical doctor. "My brother-in-law has had a myocardial infarction."

The nurses hurried into action and sent for the cardiologist. They put Joe on a gurney and moved him into the intensive care unit. In 1970, in New England where we lived, they didn't know as much about heart attack patients as they do today. Back then, they normally gave them injections of morphine and watched them closely.

Joe spent several days in the hospital. He was weak. It exhausted him just to have one of us wheel him down the hallway for a shower by the orderly.

Feelings of sadness and fear swept over me. As much as I tried not to, I wondered what I would do without Joe. He was only forty-three years old. As much as I could, I tried to focus on gratitude to God that he was still alive.

There was one bright spot in that terrible ordeal. As Joe had predicted, his skin condition cleared up. Doctors later said the stress had built up inside his body and caused the skin condition. His heart attack was the "breaking point" and released everything inside of him.

After about a week, Joe came home. He slowly began to recuperate. Three months later, on December 9, 1970, Joe suffered another massive coronary—on the fifteenth birthday of our daughter, Jennifer. After an examination at the hospital, the doctor came out to the waiting room. The gravity of his face warned me of the message.

"I'm sorry, but your husband is gravely ill—"
"How ill?"

"He won't make it through the night." As my tears erupted he said softly, "Go home and prepare your children."

I left the hospital. I wasn't emotionally ready to face our three children. I wanted to wait until my two older children, Jeff and Jennifer, were out of school. I'm not sure why, but I stopped and bought an artificial Christmas tree, the kind that comes inside a box.

I picked up Jeff and Jennifer and drove them home, and Jeff immediately assembled the tree and Jennifer started to decorate. While I waited for four-year-old Marley to come home from the neighbors, I went into the bedroom and called a few friends at church. I told them about Joe and asked them to pray.

When I heard Marley's voice, I returned to the children. I took a deep breath and prayed silently for guidance before I said, "Kids, sit down. Your dad's back in the hospital."

Marley, hands on her hips, stared defiantly at me, and asked, "What's wrong with my daddy?"

I knelt in front of her so that we were on the same eye level. "The doctors say that Daddy might go home to be with Jesus tonight." I bit my lip so that I wouldn't cry. I had tried to pray, but I didn't know how. I didn't even know if I should pray for Joe's recovery. That wasn’t the kind of praying we did in our church. We prayed for God’s will to be done. Of course I wanted him well, but was it right to ask God to intervene?

Just then, Marley clasped her hands together and looked toward the ceiling. "Dear God, please make my daddy well. Thank you, amen." She turned around and picked up one of her toys.

Even in my pain, I smiled. I had struggled with how to pray. Our little daughter certainly taught me about prayer that night. She went directly to her source: She made her petition to God; she thanked him before he answered; and she rested positively after her request.

Moved by her simple expression of faith, I relaxed. I couldn't explain it, but Marley's simple prayer changed my attitude. I knew God had heard her. I sat down at the piano and started to play and sing hymns. Between them, I paused to say, "Thank you, God."

Word about Joe spread rapidly through our church group, and several people came to the house to stand vigil with me that night. Their kindness touched me and I told them so. I went back to the piano to play and sing praises to God.

"She's still in shock," I overheard one friend say. Another thought I was in denial about Joe's impending death. It was neither. I told them that God had heard my daughter's prayer.

Joe didn't die that night. The next morning, he was extremely weak, but still alive.
The children and I were allowed to spend Christmas Day with him in his hospital room. We brought a miniature Christmas tree and gifts for him. We were grateful to have Christmas time together.

I had great peace. It came from such a simple thing as a prayer from a child who didn't know enough about his medical condition to understand that her daddy was supposed to die. Marley had enough faith to believe in a God who cared enough to listen to her prayer. A simple prayer, and just as sweetly and simply, she had said, "Thank you, amen."

Joe lived and is still alive today, four decades later. I don't understand what happened and I don't try to explain it. This much I know: A child prayed with utter faith that God would hear her and let her father live and God answered.
(Elizabeth M. Harbuck with Marley Gibson)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sean's Question by Sara Zinn

I wasn't prepared for our son's question. He was only four years old so it didn't seem that significant. I thought it was cute and laughed it off. Part of the surprise was that we weren't church people and our two sons had had a limited amount of Christian influence. I have no idea what prompted that question.

"When I go to heaven, will you and Daddy come and visit me there?" Sean stared at me and waited for an answer.

When I didn't respond, he asked, "Will you?"

"Yes, dear, you don't need to worry. We'll visit you."

My words satisfied him so he went out to play. At the time I didn't think much about what he asked.

Sean had been born with a heart murmur and doctors told us that many children outgrow the defect. He did everything any other boy of his age did, and he hadn't shown any special religious interest. I would probably have forgotten his insistent question except for what happened just before Christmas.

At a family Christmas party, my husband, Jerry, and I had a delightful time with Sean and his two-year-old brother, Chad. The room was filled with food and laughter. After dinner we had square dancing and nearly everyone tried it, including the children. Relatives snapped pictures. Everyone appeared to be having a wonderful time.

"What's wrong with Sean?" a girl called out.

"Is Sean dead?" a boy asked.

I ran over to where our son lay on the floor. Jerry and I and others tried to rouse him, but Sean didn't respond. Someone called 911. My uncle and others administered CPR. They weren't able to get any response.

This can't be happening to Sean. He's our son and we love him. I hadn't prayed since I was a child, but I silently cried out, God, if you can hear me, please help our son.

In what seemed like an extremely long time, but probably was only minutes, a team of paramedics arrived. They worked on Sean and seemed determined not to give up. One of them used a defibrillator to shock his heart.

One of the paramedics asked about his health history, his doctor, and medication. They rushed him to the nearest hospital. We prepared to follow the ambulance. Just before we left, I rushed over to an uncle, who I knew was a serious Christian, and begged him, "Please pray for Sean."

"I've already been praying," he said. "I'll continue to pray."

At the hospital, a young doctor ran into the room where they had taken our son. Minutes later, the doctor came out to see us. "We're going to try to put in a pacemaker," he said and hurried away. Not long afterward, the same doctor came back out, looked at Jerry and me, and said, "I'm sorry. We weren't able to your save your little boy."

"No, no," I said repeatedly. The tears flowed and I couldn't stop them.

A nurse led us to a chapel where we could begin the grieving process. It felt as though the loss of Sean had sucked the life from my soul. The nurse gave me a tranquilizer and I was able to calm down.

We left the hospital, but Jerry and I didn't sleep much Christmas Eve. The next day the grief hit us. I couldn't stop crying. We sat with family members, crying, talking, questioning, and searching for answers.

Many relatives and friends tried to comfort us, but the one person I most remember was a friend of my aunt named Mary Lou. She came to our house and spent Christmas Day with us. Several times she put her arms around each of us and listened when we talked and held us when we cried. She also prayed with us. She spoke of Jesus as though he was her best friend and was in the room with us.

She let me know that it was all right for me to pray, so I did. I prayed from the depths of my heart. I can't explain in words, but a change came over me. I believed in a loving God and was at peace.

Later on Christmas Day, Mary Lou's husband came to our house. He was kind and gentle and expressed his love. A number of people, many whom I hadn't known, reached out to us. Because of the change that had come over me, I began to think of them as the physical arms of Jesus that enfolded us.

The people in a small church in our town that Jerry and I had avoided for years reached out to us. Through a small-group study and their personal visits, they became a lifeline to us.

Because of their human love, I became convinced of a divine love that understood how I felt. Many times I thought, God watched while his own son died. Surely he could feel the pain inside my heart. Because of the death of his son on earth, my son would live in heaven.

Thirty years later, the miracle of the Christmas season still holds a double meaning for me. That was the time when we lost our son; that was the time we found God's loving son in our lives.

I can still hear Sean's question, "When I go to heaven, will you and Daddy come and visit me there?"

I can answer with complete certainly, "Yes, my precious son, I'll visit you and stay with you in heaven."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sunny's Perfect Roast from "A Ruined Christmas Eve"*

Here is the recipe that is mentioned in my story, "A Ruined Christmas Eve" in the Christmas Miracles.

Roast Beef Perfection

1 standing rib roast, any size

Start at 3:00 p.m. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place roast in oven and cook 1 hour.

Turn oven off.

Keep the oven door closed!

45 minutes before serving, turn the oven to 300 degrees.

The temperatures given are for sea level cooking. For high altitude cooking, add 25 degrees to each temperature.

Note: Cooked this way, the roast beef will be a juicy medium-rare and perfect every time.

Sunny Marie Hackman Contributor to Christmas Miracles

*Recipe from the Colorado Cache Cookbook, the Junior League of Denver

Monday, November 23, 2009

Miracle of the Nativity by Tracy Ruckman

December that year appeared bleak. As a newly single parent of two small boys, I worked two jobs to pay our bills. At times, it seemed I earned just enough salary to pay the babysitter, with nothing left over for the basics.

Then it got worse.

In the first week of December, the owners of the store where I worked fulltime decided to focus their energies on their parent store in another town, and planned to close ours within a few days. The same week I received my notice, I had a disagreement with the editor of the paper where I worked my second job. He wanted me to report a false story. When I refused, he forced me to resign.

In one week's time, I lost two jobs—both just before Christmas.

I spent most of my time seeking other jobs, and tried to keep life as normal as possible for the children. The dreary weather matched my mood, and I struggled to stay upbeat for my kids. Their world—my world—depended on me, and I seemed to be failing miserably.

On December 12, I came home from one of my final days at work to find a black trash bag hanging on my front door. I shifted the baby to one arm, and with the other, cautiously lifted the bag from the handle. "Stay back," I yelled at my older son. I had no idea what was inside.

I put the baby down and carefully peeked inside. I laughed at my silliness. Inside was a tiny, gaily wrapped package. We pushed through the door, and I settled the boys on the sofa. "Okay, just sit there and we'll see what this is." I pulled out a package about the size of my hand. A note taped to the box read: OPEN NOW.
I tore off the ribbon and paper and opened the box.

When I revealed the gift hidden in layers of tissue paper, Zach laughed, Jonathan said, "Mooooo," and I stared.

A cow? A ceramic cow? What did that mean?

There was no note explaining the ceramic cow.

Later that evening, I called some of my friends and asked if they had given us the cow. No one confessed, but they thought the whole story was rather amusing.
We put the cow on the table and went to bed.

The next morning, there was another trash bag hanging on our door. This time, the note said DAY 2–OPEN NOW. It was a donkey.

An excited Zach rushed to the door the third morning, ready to add to the barnyard collection. Nothing was there, but later that evening his monitoring of the door paid off because we unwrapped a sheep.

The next morning, a shepherd boy arrived and that's when I figured out what was going on. "Twelve days of Christmas," I said aloud.

That was exactly right. Each day, for the twelve days before Christmas, we received one piece of a beautiful nativity set and it included a stable. The anticipation of each day's arrival seemed to perk us up a bit, and it caused my own focus on the season, and on our lives, to change.

On Christmas Eve, baby Jesus arrived, and our crèche was complete.

Our special gift that year was a turning point for all of us, and we knew God was with us. We enjoyed that nativity for many years.

I found work—one job that paid better than the two previous positions.
But that's not the end of the story.

Seven years later, the boys and I moved to another state to get a fresh start. We faced other trials, too. My father and my grandmother had both been diagnosed with cancer, and their deaths were imminent.

"Only months, possibly weeks away," the doctors told us. We moved into my grandmother's house. She gave us her house and moved into my father's house where my sister, who lived next door, could care for them both. Once again, we began to rebuild our lives.

When Thanksgiving arrived that year, I thought of the hardships we had gone through. If we hadn't had my grandmother's house to move into, we would have become homeless. I seemed to creep through the activities of each day. Our circumstances brought to mind that other Christmas years before. We no longer had our nativity set. We couldn't afford to hire a trailer to move everything, so that was one of the items we left. At Christmas I realized how deeply I missed it.

My godly grandmother died on December 2. I felt her loss to the depth of my being. But I knew she was in heaven, and God carried us through the pain and the tears, and comforted our hearts.

A week after her funeral, I climbed into the attic, looking for possible Christmas decorations. I didn't really feel like putting out anything, but the boys were still young, and it was important for us to honor Jesus' birthday, regardless of our circumstances.

The attic was small, hardly big enough to stand in. It looked as if no one had been up there for years. But there were several boxes, so I explored each one.

When I opened the last dusty one, tucked in a far corner, and saw what appeared to be Christmas things, I closed it and hauled it back down the steps. I set the box on the sofa in front of me and reopened it.

As I unpacked the first piece, tears filled my eyes. I pulled out the objects one by one. By the time the box was empty, I sobbed uncontrollably.

In my hands were all the pieces of a nativity set—identical to the one I'd left behind. I pulled out the familiar cow, the donkey, the sheep and shepherd boy, and the precious baby Jesus. Even the stable was the same.

God was with us. That may sound strange, but the comfort of that crèche made me aware of the love of God for my family and me.

Two days after Christmas, my dad died. That was even harder than the death of my grandmother. Friends and family have asked us how we got through that difficult time. I have only one answer: God was with us.

Now, twelve years since that Christmas, and nineteen since we first received the nativity, I still don't know the identity of the giver. But God used that gift to give us something more—he made his presence known to us, both with the first nativity set and then again with my grandmother's.

That simple crèche made Christmas a reality—twice. Both times I was able to turn my focus away from my life and remember the message of Christmas. Jesus had come into the world and had nothing, not even a bed on which to sleep. By comparison, I had so much.

My treasured nativity scene is an annual Christmas reminder of the meaning of the season. God is with us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Miracle in the Storm from the book "Christmas Miracles"

By Elizabeth M. Harbuck with Marley Gibson

Christmas 1967 might have been a delightful but ordinary time except for one thing. Mother and Daddy drove from Alabama to Massachusetts to spend the Christmas holiday with us. They traveled in their new four-door Thunderbird, which was the prettiest car they had ever owned. Before they made the long trip north, Daddy had it serviced at the local garage.

We had a wonderful time together and did all the seasonal things. We attended Christmas Eve service at church, wrapped and later unwrapped presents, talked, joked, baked, and argued about whether this year's dressing in the turkey was as good as last year's.
The beautiful white Christmas was perfect for New England. Then the day came for my parents to leave. The snow had piled high on the ground and the weather reports predicted more. I was a little worried and asked them to stay.

Daddy wasn't concerned. "I've driven in heavy snow many times," he reminded us. He also pointed out that they would drive on the then-new interstate highways. "Besides, I have a new car and it's in top condition. I don't expect any problems getting home."
They considered stopping at a motel until the storm blew over, but decided to drive through to Alabama. Somewhere in Connecticut, a blinding snowstorm caught them. Daddy had about a five-foot visibility. He slowed the car to a crawl. They hadn't seen any other vehicles for a long time and no snowplows had come through.
Just then, his right-rear tire blew. The car jolted and thudded as the rim of the wheel took the weight. He pulled the car to the side of the road. The visibility hadn't improved and snow pelted the car. He was weak and feverish. Neither he nor Mother had any idea where they were except somewhere in Connecticut. That happened long before the day of cell phones.

Daddy had a choice: He could wait until someone came along to help—and neither of them had any idea when that would happen—or he could get out in the blizzard and change it himself.
"Sit tight," he told Mother. "I'll change it as quickly as I can."

"Let me help—"
"One of us out in the storm is enough. No sense in your getting sick. Stay inside, pray, and keep warm."
Mother was upset over the flat tire. She also felt concerned about his safety. They had heard terrible stories of people being robbed on the highway. After Daddy got out of the car, she folded her hands together, closed her eyes, and prayed, "Dear God, please help us."

No sooner had Daddy opened the trunk to take out the jack than two young men appeared.
Surprised, Daddy looked up. He had no idea where they came from and didn't see another car. His immediate reaction was, Oh, they're going to rob us. Maybe kill us.

"Hello there!" one of them called in a cheery voice.

"Sir, we'll be glad to change the tire for you."

"Thank you, but—"

"Please, get back in the car, sir," the second man said. "It's freezing out here. We'll change the tire."

Afraid to argue with them, Daddy nodded and turned back. He got inside the car.

"You haven't changed the tire already?" Mother said.

He shook his head and took her hand. She couldn't see what was going on, so Daddy explained about the two men.

"Do you think it's safe?" she asked.

"I don't know," he said. "But they don't seem bad. Besides, we don't have a choice, do we?"

Mother continued to pray.

The two men changed the tire quickly and put the jack and the flat inside the trunk. After they finished, one of them tapped on the window. Daddy lowered the window.

"It's all done, sir." He waved and they started to walk away.

"Wait! Let me pay you something."

It took a few seconds for Daddy to roll up the window and get out of the car. He looked around and couldn't see the two men.

Puzzled, he walked to the back of the car. The new tire was on but they were gone. He looked around. He couldn't see evidence that a truck or car had stopped. He turned in the direction the two men had gone.

He saw no footprints except his own.

When he got back inside the car, he explained the strange situation to my mother.

"God answered my prayer," she said. "He sent two angels."

"Do you think they were angels? Really?"

"Christmas angels," she said. "Sent by God to help us, and they left when their job was done. In the Bible, isn't that how angels did things?"

More than forty years have passed since that Christmas and my parents have told the story many, many times. Most people believe it; a few remain skeptical.
"It doesn't matter whether you believe," my mother would answer. "We know that we had a true Christmas miracle in Connecticut when two angels watched over us by changing our flat tire in the middle of a snow storm."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Win This Lovely Christmas Miracles Gift Basket

(Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”

Leave a comment for a chance to win the Christmas Miracles gift basket.
Wouldn’t you love to take home this amazing basket filled with Christmas goodies galore? This amazing gift basket contains everything you’ll need to make your Christmas holiday a success. Inside you’ll find a stocking stuffed with hard candies, kitchen towels and oven mitts, seasonal potpourri, holiday-colored candles, stuffed animals that talk, snowman candle, nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, gift bags, gift tags, gift bows, ornament hangers, Christmas cookie cutters, a Merry Christmas doorstopper, a picture frame, Christmas cards, Santa ear muffs, and not just one, but two copies of Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson’s Christmas Miracles – one to keep and one to give away to someone special.

to be included in the drawing for the gift basket.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photo From "A Christmas Basket" by Laurie Kolp

After exper-
iencing Christmas with one of my children in the hospital and being separated from the rest of my children as they opened their presents on Christmas morning, I have grown to appreciate the simple things during the holidays. Presents and parties are way behind God and family now. Staying focused on the true meaning of Christmas and helping others has taken precedence and because of that, I get less stressed during the Christmas season. May you all have a giving, happy, joy-of-living holiday!
~Laurie Kolp, contributing author

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Message from Cecil Murphey, Author of Christmas Miracles

"Getting excited about Christmas?" asked one of four boys who sat behind me on an Atlanta rapid-transit train.
The event took place during the second week of December and one said, "I'm going to get some cool stuff. My dad promised."
A little later, one of them said, "Christmas is the best of time of the year."

As I listened to them, I thought of that last statement that Christmas is the best time of the year. I agreed, but my reasons were different. They focused on receiving gifts. I smiled because that's a nice aspect of the special time of year.

Yet it's so much more. As a serious Christian, my thoughts focused on the origin of the holiday. In a stable two millennia earlier, a peasant woman gave birth to a baby. That infant was God's miracle gift and that child was to bless the entire world.
Look where we are now. Has it come down to nothing but giving and receiving gifts from each other? Surely there is more.

Immediately, my thoughts shifted from gifts to the significance of that special event. It was a miracle. The Bible says Mary supernaturally conceived and that made Jesus' birth a miracle. As I contemplated the word miracle, my mind flitted from one supernatural story in the Bible to another. There were so many and over thousands of years. I easily recalled healings, deliverance from certain death, victory in battle, as well as miraculous food and water supplied. In the first pages of the New Testament we read of the great miracle that God had promised for hundreds of years: the gift of the world's Savior.

The birth of Jesus is a supernatural, unexplainable event. Sometimes miracles involved the convergence of two or three separate events that cynics would call an astonishing coincidence. At other times the phenomenon happened because of the timing of two actions.

But what about today? If Christmas started with the unexplainable, did the time come when supernatural wonders ceased? Do miracles still happen? In pondering those questions, I thought about Christmas in my life and savored the memory of several Yule-season miracles in my own life. I smiled at recalling my first miracle. At a time during my childhood when we were desperately poor, I needed shoes. I asked for black. From a totally unexpected source, I received my black shoes on Christmas day. No one could have convinced me that God hadn’t provided those shoes. Yes, miracles of Christmas still occurred: I had experienced them.

As I left the rail station and walked to my car, I thought, if I've experienced wonders during this special season, surely there are others who can speak of the unexplainable at Christmas.

In that moment, the idea was born: I would invite other writers to share their miracle stories of the holy season and put them in a book. I teamed with Marley Gibson (who contributed two stories) and we edited every story to give it a unified tone. The book would be our way to proclaim divine love to a fractured, hurting world. It would also remind us that God answers prayer, even in some of the most desperate situations.

Cecil Murphey

Saturday, November 14, 2009

From contributing author Geni White

I'm doing a book signing tomorrow (Nov. 14) at a bazaar for the Camp Fire Girls. I'm really excited about this.

Every other Wed. I go to our hospital's cancer center for chemotherapy. When the beautiful postcards arrived, I gave one to every staff person there. Now they say, "We know someone famous!"

I tell them, "Not really", but now I'm always greeted by name when I arrive. SO fun.

My brother also has a story in the book, but he's shy, so he gave me half of his postcards. I've had a delightful time passing all these out.

I bought forty copies of the book and am giving one to each person who's been involved in my cancer care! What a joyful thing for me!

Thank you to Cec, to Marley and to St. Martins Press for creating such a lovely, well-written book.

Geni White, RN, MS

Contributor of 'Hunger at Christmas

Psalms 90:17 Establish the work of our hands, O Lord

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas Miracles

Celebrate the season of hope and miracles with these inspiring true stories that will warm the heart and touch the soul…

A man lies gravely ill in the hospital on Christmas when he hears angels singing and immediately makes a full recovery. A little boy with dyslexia sits down to read a Christmas book and realizes that his disability has vanished. And a woman’s faith is renewed by the chance discovery of a simple nativity set.

Many ordinary people experience God’s grace during those special moments when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday, but a time for miracles. Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson bring you the real-life stories of everyday people who have experienced these life-changing moments of hope, comfort, and transformation—all during the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

St. Martin’s Press Releases Collection of Real-life Christmas Miracle Stories that Warm the Heart

Christmas—A Great Time for Miracles

Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is Crescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, "We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events."

About the Authors

Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of 114 published books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and When God Turned Off the Lights, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have given hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information, visit

Marley Gibson is a young adult author whose first published books in the Sorority 101 series were released by Penguin Group in 2008 under the pen name of Kate Harmon. She has a new Ghost Huntress series with Houghton Mifflin written under her own name. She can be found online at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Author Cecil Murphey

Cecil Murphey has published 108 books, fiction and nonfiction, with publishers such as: Penguin Group (Berkley Praise), HarperCollins, WarnerFaith, Kensington, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, W Publishing, Bethany, B&H, Fleming H. Revell, Baker Book House, and InterVarsity Press.

His 90 Minutes in Heaven (Revell) which he co-authored with Don Piper has been on the New York Times' best-seller list since October 2006. The book has sold nearly four million copies, is on CD, large-print editions, and in 28 languages including Spanish. 90 Minutes in Heaven was picked up by four book clubs, and has been a big seller at Wal-Mart, Air Host, Books-a-Million, and K-Mart. The follow-up book, Heaven is Real (Berkley Praise) was released in August 2007, with an initial print run of 195,000. The book was selected by two book clubs, and by the second week was #13 on the NY Times' How-to, Advice extended list.

His Touchdown Alexander: My Story of Faith, Football, and Pursuing the Dream (Harvest House), co-authored with Seattle Seahawks running back and NFL MVP, Shaun Alexander, received the 2007 Retailer's Choice Award.

I Choose to Stay (Kensington), which he wrote for Salome Thomas-EL, was condensed in Reader's Digest. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote the foreword to the book. Actor Will Smith wrote the foreword to the follow-up book, The Immortality of Influence (2006). Four book clubs have selected The Immortality of Influence. Black Issues Book Review magazine selected The Immortality of Influence as their top pick for 2006.

Murphey has earned a masters degree in education and another in theology. He completed one year of work on a Ph.D. In 2006, he received an honorary D.Litt from Richmond Virginia Seminary for his "distinguished service in the field of literature."

He taught elementary grades for 3 years; did extensive teaching of church leaders in Kenya for 6 years; taught part time at Beulah Heights University for 18 years; and in more than 200 writers conferences. Since 2003, he offers four mentoring clinics each year in various cities.

He received the first annual Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association for his contributions to publishing, 2007.

He received 3 nominations for the Gold Medallion and was the 1996 winner for his co-written autobiography of Billy Graham's son, Rebel With a Cause (Nelson).

He also received the prestigious Author of the Year award for nonfiction 3 times (the most ever received by one author) from the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists.

Murphey received the Silver Angel Award for Excellence in Media (print medium) in 2004 and in 2005.

His tag line is "The Man Behind the Words" and his website is
Since 2001, he has been a panelist on TheWritersView, a moderated, online, professional writers' group with about 1,600 members.

His monthly newsletter has approximately 7,000 subscribers.

Author Marley Gibson

Marley Gibson first published books in the Sorority 101 series that were released May 2008 by Puffin Speak Books (Penguin Group) under the pen name Kate Harmon. The books are Sorority 101: Zeta Or Omega? and Sorority 101: The New Sisters.

Her new Ghost Huntress series from Houghton Mifflin Company's Graphia Line will be: The Awakening (May 2009) , The Guidance (October 2009), and The Reason (May 2010). She will write these under her own name.
She has more than twenty years' experience of event planning and marketing. She has worked in such industries as: political campaigns, United States Congress, medical, financial, technology, and public relations. She currently works full-time as an executive assistant/meeting planner in an 800-billion-dollar financial firm in Boston, MA.

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America. She has served twice as an officer of the New England Romance Writers chapter, as well as being a member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators.

She is the creator and founder of the Chick Lit Writers of America, an online chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of Meeting Planners International.

Gibson holds a Bachelors of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Advertising and a double minor in Political Science and Speech Communications from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL.

She has taken writing classes at Boston University.

Gibson has worked for two United States Congressmen, in four presidential campaigns, and various state campaigns in Alabama, Texas, and Virginia from 1984 to 1992.

She has been a poll worker and a volunteer with the American Red Cross and currently helps out, through her company, with various charities such as the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the United Way, and New England Home for Little Wanderers.

Reviews of Christmas Miracles

Christmas Miracles
is a collection of true stories about the miracle of Christmas, times when God stepped into everyday life and made His presence known. The miracles described in this book are of the extraordinary and the ordinary, of the gloriously happy and the deeply poignant. Like the story of angels who changed a tire for an elderly couple during a snowstorm, and of a special nativity set that gave a single mom and her two boys hope during one bleak Christmas season. There’s a story of the miraculous recovery as hundreds of children prayed for a dying man, and the miracle of a place to spend Christmas for a homeless family. A miracle basket of food and gifts for a needy family, and of a little boy’s Christmas Eve prayer as his father rushes home on roads covered with black ice.

I enjoyed this. Just the thing to give you that warm, cozy, ready-for-the-holidays feeling.
from Virginia (Good Reads) http://http//

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey by Marley GibsonCo-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.

Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.

Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.

Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.

Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.

Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, Iwant to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?

Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.

Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)

Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.

Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles?

Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.

Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.

Cecil Murphey's Web site.

Marley Gibson's Web site.