Never expecting to be homeless, Josie Meyers and her children are shocked when circumstances force them to live on the streets. Rick, a down-and-out disabled vet, shares the gospel with them, which reawakens memories of a faith Josie had in childhood. But can she reconcile her once-held beliefs with her current situation? 240 pages, softcover from New Hope.
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Josie Meyers was angry, angry with her deceased husband and angry with God. The Meyers family was living the "American dream" until Josie's husband died, leaving Josie and her two small children destitute, with nothing but what they could fit into their backpacks. Josie blamed God for abandoning them in the midst of their crisis. With nowhere to go and no support system the young family was left to sleep in homeless shelters, occasional cheap motels or in an alley when the shelters were full. Soup kitchens provided occasional meals, and only necessities were purchased with carefully managed food vouchers and a small monthly assistance check. On cold rainy days the family would visit the library, spending time reading and studying.
On Thanksgiving Day in a local soup kitchen Josie, Jacob and Susanna had just sat down to eat when Rick, a Vietnam War veteran, entered their lives. Rick was homeless, unkempt, and had demons of his own, but displayed a gentle and comforting spirit. His offer to pray over their food was accepted and as the children interacted with Rick they were immediately drawn to him. Josie however, was reticent and reluctant to warm up to anyone, mistrust still wreaking havoc in her heart. Rick's faith was ever present, but Josie couldn't reconcile with God. Rick was helpful in suggesting ways to make the Meyers family more comfortable especially as the weather in Washington state grew rainy and colder in the winter months. Rick frequently checked on Josie and the children to make sure they were safe. He oftentimes gave up his space in a shelter to other homeless people like Josie and her children, even though his health was impaired. As difficult as their lives had become Josie became cognizant of the generosity, inspiration and strength from outsiders. Eventually Josie's heart warmed with the idea that Rick may be their guardian angel.
The secondary true story that resulted from this publication is as impressive as the fictional story itself. Photographers sought out a homeless man who fit the author's description of Rick, and upon finding an incredible match they asked Willard Parker for permission to take his picture for use on the cover of "Unexpected Christms Hero." Homelessness has been a way of life for Mr. Parker and he was willing to comply. Willard hadn't seen his daughters in several years, and had never met his grandchildren. The resulting hope was that someone might recognize his picture and assist in reuniting him with his family. A friend of one of Mr. Parker's daughters recognized his picture on the book cover, and informed her that she was certain it was her father. Confirmation resulted in a campaign to reunite the Parker family. Author Kathy Macias and her husband Al set up a website for the collection of donations to facilitate in reuniting them. In a matter of weeks the family was successfully reunited through the generosity of the Macias' and the donations of countless others. Mr. Parker is living with one of his daughters as a result of this miraculous event. His is suffering from leukemia, but happy to have this time with his family.
Kathy Macias is a superb author who broaches unpopular topics and carefully weaves a story of truth, reality, strength of human character, sacrificial love and the spirit of generosity in her fictional stories. She carefully incorporates those unpopular topics with inspiration, compassion and spirituality. "Unexpected Christmas Hero" is an emotional portrayal of deceit, a resultant homeless condition, and eventual reconciliation. Although classified as a Christmas story, this is a powerful story that can be read any time of the year, and I intend to read this book again and again.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased a copy of this book with no expectations from the author regarding a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine, and no compensation has been received for this honest review.
Great little novella. Made me appreciate my home and warm bed. Awakened my awareness of the unfortunate circumstances which create homeless people. Drugs and alcohol are not the only causes. I thought the book was well written and held my interest to the end.
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Review 3 for Unexpected Christmas Hero
Date:December 27, 2012
As an admirer of Kathi’s writings, I was excited about the release of an Unexpected Christmas Hero. It is a wonderful book filled with intrigue and hope. You will feel connected to the characters throughout this heart-tugging tale of a mother and two children who find themselves homeless. Forced to lean on the kindness and generosity of others, this little family is especially helped by a certain homeless man who indeed becomes an unexpected Christmas hero. This book is a must read.
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Review 4 for Unexpected Christmas Hero
The real meaning of Christmas
Date:November 30, 2012
This was a wonderful story full of real life struggles and characters you can fall in love with. It brings you on the journey of a young mother who finds herself homeless with two young children. You struggle with her as she has to put aside her pride to receive help for her children. The unexpected hero reminds you about the true christian spirit of giving to others even when you don't have a lot to give. A great story for everyone.
*Review From A Well-Watered Garden Blog* Josie Meyers and her 2 young children: Jacob and Susanna are homeless. To be homeless is frightening. They have no home to sleep in at night, no home to feel protected in, no home to feel a sense of belonging to. There is shame involved in not having a place to live. Josie spends every moment worrying about where they will eat, where they will sleep, what if one of them becomes ill, whom can she trust, how will the children be able to attend school, will the weather turn cold or rainy or snow. Josie blames herself, she blames her late husband, and she ignores the One she once loved and worshiped. Rick an older man is a homeless Veteran. The Meyer's family met Rick in a shelter. He became their friend, and unknowingly to them, their prayer warrior.
I love this story! Reading An Unexpected Christmas Hero opened my eyes to the plight of the homeless. It disturbed me to envision a single woman and small children without shelter and living on the streets without a safe place to live. There are cruel malevolent people in this world that would harm an unprotected woman and her children. Homelessness is the outer-layer of Josie's story. Josie harbors unforgiveness, hurt, grief, bitterness, shame, guilt, abandonment, and insecurities. This story touched on issues that have affected all of us. We may never have been without a place to live, but we have dealt with insecurities, hurt, or unforgiveness. This story through the character of Rick, demonstrates Christ's extravagant love. To look at Rick's outer appearance he's seen as a dirty, homeless, vagrant. His inner person is one of love and understanding and kindness. While writing this review it dawned on me that Unexpected Christmas Hero is about seeing people through Christ Jesus' eyes. We must look past their outward appearance, we must put aside any judgment or misconception about a person, and instead see their wounded spirit and need for Christ's love. We must love them and display it with the Spirit of Christ who lives in us.
Thank you to Kathi Macias, Christian Speaker Services, and New Hope Publishers for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review!
With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays arriving soon, many of us have families to gather together with and a home to return to after the get-together. Josie Meyers had the same plans for her family, until tragedy struck and her husband had passed away. Leaving the family in financial ruin, Josie and her children, Jacob and Susanna, find themselves homeless. Josie receives some money from social services, which she has to stretch to last through the month for shelter from the cold, wind, rain, and snow and for nutritional food.
Josie prays, but thinks that God is not answering her prayers. How could God let this happen to her and her children? Yet an elderly homeless man, Rick, a homeless Vietnam vet, helps to look out for her and her children, working to keep them safe in shelters as much as space is available. People from church help her out as much as possible, yet their family eventually has to return to the street. Little does she know that she will meet an unexpected Christmas hero, and what it will mean for her and her children.
Kathi Macias's story, Unexpected Christmas Hero, depicts the life of the homeless eking out a `life' on the streets, hoping for a warm meal and a place to sleep. It's a life depicted in all its pain and sickness. It's heart-wrenching to `see' all the people suffering and looking for food and shelter. Yes, in your mind's view, you can `see' the long lines of huddling people waiting with hope. Your heart breaks when you realize some are turned away because the shelters are full. The aching of Josie for her young children wrenches your heart.
This scenario is repeated in city after city here in the US. Many families are only a month or two from this same dilemma. How can we personally help others in this position of homelessness? Kathi opens our eyes to ways of assisting the homeless.
Let Kathi's book stir your heart and be led by God to assist where possible in your own communities. Read it with an open mind and heart.
The man on the cover--whose name is Willard Parker--readily agreed to pose, and then explained that he truly was homeless and hoped having his picture on the cover would somehow help him find his family, particularly his grown daughter. We are doing our best to stay in touch with Mr. Parker and also to spread his story across the Internet and on radio/TV in hopes of fulfilling his dream to be reunited with his family. If anyone looks at the picture on the cover and/or recognizes the man's name (Willard Parker) and knows the whereabouts of any of his family, we would truly appreciate it if they would contact me at ezyrtr(@)ca(.)rr(.)com so we can take the necessary steps to try to make this reunion happen.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CSS Virtual Book Tours in exchange for posting the author's interview and/or book review on my blog. No monetary compensation was received.
Kathi Macias has done it again, another book that makes you think..."There, but for the Grace of God, goes I". Such a tough subject of being homeless. You find yourself in their shoes, walking and feeling the cold. Hungry, and trying to get into shelters. Kathi brings to life the "Street People", ones who maybe less than a year ago were living the "American" life. Then the rug was pulled out from under them. We met a Mom...Josie Meyer's and her children Jacob, 7, and Susanna, 5. Her husband has died, and left her with nothing. They had to leave their home with just the clothes on their backs. Along the way they met other people in the same predicament, some befriend them...Like Rick, a man with his own demons, and very sick. We meet people like the Lunds, who don't have a lot, but open up their home and give all that they have. Also Nancy, who's love of the Lord compels her to help wherever and whenever she can. The story takes place over the Holidays, and once you start you won't be able to put this book down...I couldn't! This book makes a wonderful gift, and makes you appreciate all that you have been blessed with.
I received this book from the Publisher New Hope, and was not required to give a positive review.
This latest book by Kathi Macias is a fictional story of a family who suddenly have found themselves homeless and the hardships they face trying to stay warm and fed. The action takes place beginning as they are preparing to eat Thanksgiving dinner at a local shelter, and meet a homeless Vietnam veteran named Rick. For the next few weeks, we share the highs, lows, difficulties and blessings Josie and her children encounter as they meet new friends who want to help but whose hands are also tied. Josie also has gone from apathy toward God to bitterness for the way her life has turned out. The kindness of others slowly melts her cold heart, and watching the way Rick has survived his own situation with a steadfast faith, shows her that God is ever watchful and caring no matter how big the storm is that rages within and without.
This is one of those books that I did not want to put down once I started reading it, and the characters quickly became dear to me. It also made me think more of what I can do to become part of the solution. The needs of the homeless are many and sometimes the resources are limited or unavailable. There are also many faces and stories that get untold when it comes to those who find themselves homeless; I hope this gives more readers a desire to see how they can do something to help others during this time when many of us are struggling. So, a story that captured my heart and imagination...and gave me something to think about. Well done!
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author's interview and/or book review on my blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).
"The late November sunshine was thin and tepid, but a welcome interruption to the gray skies and constant drizzle that usually hung over the small Washington town of Riverview for the better part of eight or nine months each year. Josie Meyers shivered as she stood in line behind her two children, waiting their turn for a free Thanksgiving meal.
Tears bit her eyes at the memory of past Thanksgiving celebrations, particularly the most recent one the previous year. Though they had all been grieving the passing of Josie's mother, they still managed to turn the day into a festive occasion, as the four of them gathered around the table to give thanks for the spread that awaited them.
Sam, she thought. You stood there that day, offering a brief prayer of thanksgiving to a God I'm not sure you even believed in, and never let on for a moment that you hadn't a clue where our next meal would come from or how we'd make the mortgage payment that month. How in the world were you able to carry it off for so long? If you hadn't gotten sick, would you finally have found a way out of the mess we were in - or would you be standing here with the three of us now, begging for a hot meal and wondering where we'd sleep tonight?" (pg 9).
So now Josie is forced to take things one day at a time as she tries to find enough food and a place that is warm enough each night for herself and her young children Jacob and Susanna. There is a waiting list for government assisted housing so for now she kills time at the local library and mall until the shelters open each night. Occasionally she can save enough through food vouchers and her monthly checks to stay in a modest motel but more often than not, she's on the streets trying to stay warm and try til something better comes along.
In Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias, we find out what it's like to live through the eyes of Josie Meyers who had everything until her husband Sam died from cancer and left her owing more money then she could ever imagine. When their home was repossessed, there was no family members who would take her in and her pride kept her from calling on her friends to ask for help. She had hoped that some how, some way, that she could figure out a way to secure them all permanent housing but never realized that it would turn out like this. Now when she meets a homeless Vietnam Veteran by the name of Rick who offers her son Jacob the last piece of his pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, her life will be changed in unseen ways by the God she has abandoned in her search for hope.
I received Unexpected Christmas by Kathi Macias compliments of Pump Up Your Book Tours and New Hope Publishers for my honest review. Even though this is a Christmas story I can see the message that it contains being shared throughout the year. After reading this one, I felt like I had just witnessed a true Hallmark moment, like the movies that come out this time of the year. What an ideal movie this one would make and the impact to people seeing it would really spread the message of hope and faith in God no matter how dire the situations are in your life. I easily rate this one a 5 out of 5 Christmas Stars and have now added this one to my permanent shelf to read every single year. This is soon to be a classic in my opinion.
Author Kathi Macias wrote about a subject we won’t quickly forget. She brings to our attention a story that happens to people each and every day. We don’t often think about this subject because we are comfortable in our nice heated homes and we have plenty of food to eat. This story will touch your heart in a way you’ve never been touched before.
The story is about Josie Meyers and her two children living on the streets, homeless and constantly seeking shelter and food to eat. While she looses faith in God to supply her needs she relies on herself to take care of her children. After all why should she trust God? He hasn’t answered her prayers.
Rick is a homeless man who befriends first her children and then Josie. The children soon look forward to seeing Rick, Josie does too.
Josie doesn’t see the big picture of all the people God sends to help her along her journey. Will she ever resort to praying and trusting God again?
I was touched by this book and couldn’t put it down. I cried over how God not only protected Josie and her children but how he made a way for her each and every day. I cried about how simple and easy it is for us to put our faith and trust in God but yet I am guilty of trying to solve my own problems.
This story had an awesome ending. Yes, I sobbed. How could I not? I hope everyone reads this heart warming book.
A strange thing happened to me after I finished reading this book. A name and face of a woman in my church popped into my mind. I felt God urging me to pass this book along to her. I saw her at Bible study this morning and I told her, boy do I have a book for you to read. I promised to give her my copy at church on Sunday. I told her the author was Kathi Macias and I told her when she finished this book to pass it along to some one else.
Thank you Kathi for allowing this book to tug at our heart strings. Thank you for helping us open our hearts to those in need this Christmas season. Thank you for another powerful book that speaks to our heart.
Unexpected Christmas Hero is a heartwarming novel about a woman named Josie and her two children. They were living the typical suburban life until Josie's husband suddenly died and left them destitute. The book shows the difficulties that the homeless experience by living on the streets and in shelters. Most of us can't even imagine what it would be like to sleep in parks or behind buildings, to be cold and hungry, and not to know where to turn next for food and shelter. Josie finds friendship in a local church, in the local library, and in shelters for the homeless. Through her difficult circumstances her faith is once again confirmed and restored, and she receives a precious gift from a most unlikely source, the homeless war veteran Rick, who truly becomes her unexpected Christmas hero. Although this story is a tearjerker, it is also an inspirational story of friendship, love, and enduring faith.
I think this novel has to be the most soul-grabbing one I have read this year--even among Kathi's others, of which there are a bu-unch of dynamic, breath-holding books. Josie finds herself homeless after her husband dies, leaving her too deep in debt to hang onto anything but her pride. He hadn't told her he'd lost his job, taken them to the edge of bankruptcy, and wouldn't even tell her he was sick--until it was too late even to save his life.
On the street with two children, she goes from one shelter to the next or sleeps behind the cleaners. She wonders if she'll ever feel safe again, if her children will be able to go to school, or what she can do to get out of these unbelievable circumstances.
And then Rick shows up. He wins her children's confidence and affection, but Josie worries about everyone they meet on the street. And she has her pride. She doesn't want to be beholden to anyone, or cause anyone any trouble.
Admirable traits--but not even God can break through that much armor. Or can He?
Unexpected Christmas Hero could be the best Christmas gift you buy anyone, including yourself.
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Review 14 for Unexpected Christmas Hero
Date:October 11, 2012
This story just grabbed hold of me from the start and wouldn't let go. It has given me a whole new view of the homeless and made me determined to find a way to help.
Josie's story, her fall from the life she had always known, to the depths of being homeless with two young children, is heartbreaking. And Rick shows more kindness and generosity out of his poverty than many who have more - kind of reminiscent of "the widow's mite".
I loved this story. It made me laugh and cry...and hope. Ms. Macias does a wonderful job of making it all real and bringing the truth home. I pray this story touches many hearts!
In the quiet challenge of a moment hope lingers just overhead.
Josie Meyers and her young children Susanna and Jacob, victims of unfortunate circumstances, struggle to find their place in the world, while searching for a spot to rest their weary hearts.
Rick a Vietnam veteran, is a kindly man who always looks for ways to put others needs in front of his own. His faith is a source of strength always challenging him to take the next step forward.
Will the trials and struggles of the Meyer family bring them closer together as they are lead through the darkness or will the unseen and cruel challenges pull them apart?
A must read for the upcoming holiday season that will tug at your heart and one that will give the reader a sense of gratitude for God's blessings. Faith, heartbreak, reality, sadness and love come together for form this impossible to put down read. Plot flowed easily creating no dull or broken parts, dialogue was easy to follow and scenery was vivid leading to the ending. I found the overall message to be very inspiring and I was highly entertained! I will recommend this well written novel to others! 5 Stars! Thanks to New Hope Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC for my review.