Win a Free Copy of “A bit of Christmas”


Christmas is coming around the corner. It’s time to stock up. Why not buy a lovely set of Christmas short stories in the book “A bit of Christmas”? Only $10 for a signed copy. Even better, hop over to my Facebook Author page and win a chance at a free copy by commenting on my contest post.

“A bit of Christmas” was released last year, and my story, “Just Another Navidad” appears along with five other enjoyable short stories. If you’re not on Facebook, just comment below if you’d like a copy and we’ll figure something out. 🙂

I’m happy to mail the book to anyone who’d like a copy. It’s always good to start shopping early and beat the crowds!

Allison K. Garciaabitofxmas

I’m an ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-Finalist!


Soooooo…last night I was just reading Harry Potter to my baby (’cause I’m weird like that!) and having a chill evening when I see a phone call from California. I almost didn’t pick it up, because I’ve had garbage calls from there before (“Congratulations, you’ve won a cruise to the Bahamas.” “The warranty on your car is about to expire.” etc). But, on a whim, I picked up the phone, and I’m glad I did.

“I’m calling from ACFW  to let you know you a Semi-Finalist in the Contemporary category for the Genesis Contest.”

I was floored.

This was the third I had put that particular manuscript in the contest. Maybe this year will be different, I had thought. And, alas, it was!

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a worldwide organization with more than 2600 members, so this is a big deal! My story ended up in the top 7 out of 153 entrants for my category. Whoa! If you can’t tell, I’m definitely freaking out over here! So excited!

Anyhooooooo, this is about the best news I’ve heard in a while, so I figured I’d share. Don’t give up on your dreams! I started writing as soon as I could pick up a pen, and I wanted to be a writer since I was a child (I may have pictured myself on Opera Book Club as an amazing child author superstar).

I’ve been working hard at the craft for a lot of years, and things seem to be picking up in the last year or so. I thank God, because He’s the One who makes things happen.

Check out the other semi-finalists here!

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Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself


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“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

No buses back then, our ancestors arrived at the Statue of Liberty on big boats, very big boats. Chock full of immigrants – some of them having paid passage, some of them trading for passage, some of them stowing away. No matter which way they came, they came in droves – tired and ready to start a new, better life in the land of opportunity. So arrived my great-grandfather Denato Quagliato from Italy about a hundred years ago. I am very thankful for this, because that’s why I exist today. 🙂

Now, I don’t know much about Italy in the early 1900s, but I doubt they were experiencing the type of violence that exists currently in Central America.

Am I an expert about the situation in Central American and why children are coming in thousands? No. But what I do know, I know from listening to the traumatic experiences from others, both through my work and through my personal life. I know it’s not pretty and that I would make the same choice if I were in their circumstances.

Another thing I know is that, as a Christian, I am called to love and care for foreigners in our land. There are countless verses in the Bible about this, but here is one that comes to mind: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – NIV).

Perhaps it has been so long since we have been foreigners (for me, it was three or four or more generations ago), that we have forgotten what it means to be lost and scared in a new land. Perhaps our ancestors have not passed down the stories of hardships from where they came from and when they arrived (I know mine haven’t). Perhaps we feel we are so different from them, entitled by our station in life or country status, that we don’t need to love them.

I’m not sure. I just know I want to be on the side of love.

“ When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 – NIV).

I have heard many arguments against undocumented immigrants and against accepting the Central American children as refugees and against immigration itself. Some of the arguments revolve around us earning our right to be in this country. My response to this is that I was born here but I didn’t earn being born here; it just happened that way. Some of the arguments revolve around stealing our jobs and eating up our resources. My response to this has to do with compassion: if I have 100 loaves of bread and someone has none but he/she has risked his/her life to just get one loaf and not starve to death, I’m going to give them some of my bread.

What I think is the greater issue and the main driving force to many of these arguments is combination of a fear of the unknown and the tendency to dislike those who are different from us. The unknown is scary and if you don’t know any immigrants or any undocumented immigrants, it is hard to put a face to things and understand them. People have been dealing with this for thousands of years. The way to overcome fear is to face it and the way to face this fear is to talk with people and understand them.

This is the first post in a series about immigration. Future posts will include interviews with immigrants living in the U.S. and with people living in countries currently experiencing violence, danger, and/or extreme poverty. I hope this will help you understand more about why people come to the U.S. and encourage you to examine yourself and your own thoughts about immigration.

Back in Jesus’ time, there weren’t undocumented and documented immigrants but people still wanted to justify their mistreatment/lack of compassion for others. The Bible doesn’t tell us who to love and who not to love, but rather says to love everyone.

I shall leave you with this story from the Bible, Luke 10:25-37 in the NIV:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’c ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’d ”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.”

(Luke 10:25-37 – NIV)

Thankfulness vs. First World Problems


I’ve been mulling over this post for a while and have finally decided to write it. I really feel like God wants me to work right now on being thankful in times of trouble. Last week in church the sermon touched on being Paul being thankful while in prison and this week the pastor mentioned man who was paraplegic who said he would only get to praise God in this way right now since he would have a new body in Heaven. That was a “whoa” moment for me. There’s some dedication right now and also a call for me. I only have this opportunity to praise God with all my difficulties now because once I’m out of this world, difficulties will pass. Therefore, give Him the glory now instead of waiting.

Easier said than done.

It’s hard to praise God and be thankful when things are hard, when you’re going through a rough time, and when you are in a lot of pain (whether emotional, spiritual, or physical). Last week I went through a difficult time and in the hardest moment of that time was in the car on my way to work. I had on KLove (the Christian radio station) and a song came on (not sure which one it is) but it repeats over and over again, “And I’m breathing in Your grace and breathing out Your praise.” And I decided to just start doing that. I breathed in, asking for God’s grace and breathed out, thanking Him for my situation (even though I hated the situation). I did that way longer than the song lasted and found that it helped me feel better about the situation.

I’ve noticed I also have trouble being thankful even when things aren’t that bad, when, in fact, they are better than most people have it. I’ve heard those things called “First World Problems,’ so I thought I’d share some thoughts/statements I’ve made lately and later realized have been really stupid to complain about. So, here’s some “first world problems” I’ve had lately and my responses to them:

1. My Word with Friends game broke and I lost all my games in progress! (Ummm…ok, you can start new games, but really there are people starving and you are complaining about your smart phone…and not even that you can’t call someone, but your games!)

2. I can’t finish the food on my plate because I ate too much. (Too much food, not really a problem)

3. I can’t find my Netflix DVD. I might have to pay for it!

4. I have too many checks in my wallet right now. (haha, this is not really a problem. A blessing, not a curse)

5. I have to scrape ice off my car. (Response, I have a car or any kind of mode of transportation. That’s better than a lot of people.)

6. I have to work even though it’s snowing. (I am complaining because I want to stay home and still get paid. Reality check, I have a job and only live 2 miles from work. Not the end of the world.

7. This desk I bought for my new sewing machine won’t fit into the trunk of my hybrid car…or in the trunk of my husband’s car. (This doesn’t even really need a response. Such a first world problem. Not one but two cars! And I’m complaining!)

8. My shows are in reruns this week and I can’t find anything to watch on Netflix. (shakes head)

 

My point with noting these “first world problems” of mine is that we all do it. We all get into times of complaining when really we have a lot to be thankful for, even when things aren’t going great. I hope this helps you put things in perspective and reminds you to be grateful for what you have today.

In fact, I would love to hear some thing(s) you are grateful for below! Comments, please!

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I am thankful for my dog, Oso!

Prejudice…Wrote a post about it. Like to hear It? Here it go.


Free your mind….(click here if you want to get that song out of your head by watching the awesome YouTube video…En Vogue! Woot!)

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Well, if you’ve looked at your Facebook feed at all or been listening to the news in the last couple days, you will have realized that Paula Dean got herself into trouble. At some point (perhaps many points) she said the “n” word and then her response was that everyone says it from time to time. Side note: I’ve only said it when quoting people or songs, but even then don’t really even say it, because it scares the crap out of me.

This morning I watched a video from the Huffington Post saying that she defended slavery in 2012. You can click here to watch it.

She is obviously prejudiced but I thought what she said about her grandfather committing suicide after adjusting to a life where he son was killed in the Civil War and he lost all his “workers” was less prejudiced and more truthful and sad. I’m sure she said “workers” because, even for someone from the South, “slaves” is a hard word to say without cringing.

Moving from NJ to the South, I’ve seen loads of racism in both spots. It is also true that everyone has prejudices. I realized that when I came to the South. My dad told me before I left, “Now, remember. People are slower down there.” And, he didn’t just mean driving. I moved to the South thinking people were going to be stupider than me. I also thought everyone white would hate black people. Well, I was wrong. Loads of people are smarter than me, even the ones with the thickest accents! (I think this prejudice may have came from TV/movies where people with thick accents are perceived as uneducated and crazy). I mean, I heard the “n” word way more than up North, but the longer I live down here, the more I realize that everybody has prejudices.

One thing that I have recognized in myself is that my biggest prejudice is against prejudiced people. This means that when I see stuff like this Paula Dean fiasco, I have an automatic reaction to want to hate her. But, I have also learned that I need to take a step back and see things from her perspective. She is an older lady that’s been in the South since back when they used to have separate water fountains and separate schools and separate restaurants for white people and “colored people.” Because of this history and probably due to some parenting, she sees herself as separate from people of different races. She prejudges that people of a different color will different, perhaps even less, than her. She probably doesn’t do it on purpose, because she’s been taught that way and it’s been so long, it’s automatic. But, that doesn’t make it right.

What I have learned about change through years of being a counselor (and a human being) is that you can’t force people to change, they have to decide to change on their own. Sometimes life events (like getting fired from your job or getting into legal trouble) can give you that pressure to want to make some changes, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Now, right now (like I did), you might have had that automatic thought, “She ain’t gonna change.” You might have also had angry thoughts thinking about her using the “n” word. You might have that superiority feeling because you don’t use it. Let me tell you this. It doesn’t mean you still aren’t just like her. You are prejudiced. I am prejudiced. We are all prejudiced. Again, that doesn’t make it right.

What I am challenging you (and myself, as well) is to examine your own prejudices. If you need a bit of guidance, here’s a cool article about hidden bias and a link to a test about your hidden biases. Then you need to step back and accept those prejudices that you have and, when you are ready, take steps to change this.

What kind of steps? Well, I’m no expert, but I have decreased my prejudice against the South by living here and talking with people and listening to them with an open mind. My personal belief is that a lot of prejudice comes from fear of the unknown. So, if you are ready to decrease and hopefully one day overcome your prejudice, start by learning more about the people, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, culture, or language that you have a prejudiced reaction to. And remember, people are people. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my short years on Earth, it’s that if I look and listen hard enough, I can see not only the differences that make them who they are, but I can also find things in common that can help me connect with them.

Prejudice separates us. Connections bring us together.