Twenty Years of Freedom From Addiction

by Tammy Trail

I’m sure many  significant events happened within the last twenty years. I’ve been racking my brain for a source of inspiration for the topic of this month’s blog. How can I bring something to print that has not been thought of by my fellow blog mates (who are all awesome!)?

A dear friend of mine recently asked me to write down the testimony of my struggle to quit smoking. She has another friend who is struggling, too. I realized this year in November will be twenty years smoke free for both my husband and me.

I suppose any bad habit is hard to break. We all struggle with something. My husband had only smoked for a handful of years, and he seemed to have an easier time of it the first time we attempted to quit. I had been a die hard smoke stack since the age of 15! Of course, I had adults in my life that told me I would regret starting. It would take years off my life, I would ruin my health. None of that mattered to a hardheaded teenager who thought she could quit at any time, and who didn’t appreciate good advice.

My first attempt to stop smoking was when I became pregnant with my daughter, Amanda. Cold Turkey–that was the way to do it! Oh my, what I put my poor husband through. It was so hard when you spend your workday in an office full of smokers! I would literally cry until my husband relented and bought a pack of cigarettes.

Then we tried hypnosis. It worked for awhile. I was even able to ignore those folks at work. But for some reason, I began to crave a cigarette on Thursday evenings after work. I know, it was very strange. This battle was real. I loved to smoke. I gained pleasure from it. There was no reason for small talk in a social setting while holding a cigarette and hiding behind the veil of smoke. So, eventually I was right back where I started.

Fast forward to a year after my son, Sean, was born. Cigarette prices were going up. While we struggled with meeting our financial obligations and putting a meal on the table, there was always money for our habit. Tim and I had rededicated our lives to the Lord and started attending a small full gospel church. We were learning so much, and the people were so patient with us. I’m sure they could smell our smoke-laced clothes before we even hit the door. Our beloved pastor could teach for hours, and Tim and I would try and satisfy our nicotine cravings with one last cigarette while we pulled the car into the church parking lot.

So, we decided to try and quit once again. This time we used the patch. Those nicotine-laced sticky adhesives on our upper arms seemed to work, but my, were they expensive. One Saturday afternoon, a few days into wearing the patch, I attended a church sponsored event on prayer.

While praying, I heard a voice in my spirit tell me, “Daughter, you don’t need that patch anymore.” Not knowing what to do with that, I left the patch on, and didn’t change it Sunday morning before church.

Our service usually began with prayer requests. A well meaning member of the congregation knew Tim and I were trying to quit smoking. She felt we needed to go up to the altar for prayer. This was very new to us, since we had only recently gone through re-dedication.  Accepting prayer, the laying on of hands–the very act of humility–was a huge step of faith for us. Remembering the words spoken to me the day before and thirsting for all of what the Lord may have in store for us, we went forward.

Loving hands were placed on shoulders, on our head, in the small of my back and at my elbows. I recall the pastor placing his hands on our heads, he spoke  loud and clear, “in the name of Jesus Christ, I proclaim the addiction to nicotine be lifted off of these bodies and claim healing.” If, there were any other words spoken, I don’t remember them. I just felt free. My husband and I have not even looked at a cigarette since that day.

I know it’s hard to quit a bad habit. I feel like cigarettes are the most difficult, because it is socially acceptable. I think cigarettes are just as addicting as hard drugs. If you struggle with an addiction, please seek help.

Matthew 11:28-30, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

CLICK TO TWEET: Hard to quit an addiction to cigarettes. Twenty years of #freedom from addiction. #smokefree

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It’s September. Therefore Football!

I am not a huge sports fan, but Tim and I have two teen boys. One is a Senior who plays football, the other a Junior who’s into soccer. So, most Friday nights you will find my husband and me sitting through a high school football game. We love to cheer both of them on!

If you’ve read many of my past blog posts, I love to refer to my childhood for a good story. Growing up, the favorite sports team tended to change from season to season. I seem to remember that the Miami Dolphins was the team of choice for my brothers in the early 70’s.

My father worked swing shift at a cement plant for many years. He was either working or sleeping, but on Sunday afternoons during football season, he would spend his day off watching a televised game. There was never a particular team he liked. He would just pick a side and cheer for them.

The reason I recall watching America’s favorite pastime with  Dad is because of  the exuberance he expressed when his team was winning. We didn’t see my Dad in a good mood very often. He was always kind of a grumpy guy, but we found ourselves cheering too. It was a good time, and a great memory.

How about a good show? I can admit that there are a few “sports” type movies that I have loved watching for inspiration and entertainment.

There are two from my childhood that I remember well. One is Brian’s Song. I would rate this one as a two-tissue box movie. This ABC Movie of the Week aired in 1971, with James Caan playing the part of Brian Piccolo. After Brian is recruited into the Chicago Bears franchise, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This story is told by his friend, the legendary Gale Sayers. It’s a real-life journey about friendship between teammates, and Brian’s courageous struggle battling cancer.

Another made-for-television story, which aired in 1977  is titled Something for Joey. A three-tissue box movie if ever there was one. Based on the life story of the relationship between Penn State football player, John Cappelletti (played by Marc Singer), and his younger brother Joey. Joey is diagnosed with leukemia. John would do anything for his brother.

Joey expects touchdowns from his older brother. John pushes himself to the limits to give Joey what he wants, so much so that his efforts win him the Heisman Trophy in 1973.

More recently in 1993, the movie Rudy gave us a real-life tale of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Despite being told he was too small to play football, Rudy has a dream to play for the University of Norte Dame. He has neither the money, nor the grades to qualify for scholarships. After overcoming all the odds stacked against him, he fights his way onto the football team. I was recently told by a male co-worker that this movie is the only one he ever shed a tear over. It was during the part when all the players on the Notre Dame team threw their football jerseys onto the coach’s desk to show they would not play unless Rudy did. It’s another great movie.

So, even though I don’t like sports much, I do love to watch a good game, and it’s even better if it comes on the big screen in a film.

Do you have a favorite motivational quote from a sports coach or a sports movie?

Click to tweet:  There are a few “sports” type movies that I love watching. #football #inspiration

Writing prompt: I grabbed the remote, flipped on the television, and leaned back in the recliner. It was time for…

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Genesis – Back to the Beginning

By Tammy Trail

Our family was never big on going to church. We did attend a local Lutheran church down the street  for an occasional Sunday School class, or Vacation Bible School during the summer breaks. I learned about Jesus through this sporadic exposure to the Bible.

In 1994, when I worked as a paraprofessional at a local grade school, I was invited by a small group of teachers to join their Bible study group. Just like all things that are meant to happen for a reason, it changed my life and set me on my path of true healing.

Our first study was a survey of the Old Testament. My love of history and genealogy made the book of Genesis my favorite Old Testament book. Granted there are parts of this narrative that have always made me scratch my head, but what great stories of  God’s promises to his  people.

Examples of incredible faith are found in the pages of this book. Of course, Creation is the main story everyone remembers from the book of Genesis, but you’ll also find plenty of heroes and heroines. This is the beginning history of God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a great testament of faith, and obedience. What an adventure God sent them on, and all the while he blessed them with wealth, knowledge, protection, and wisdom. Noah is a favorite of my grandsons now. I asked my four-year-old grandson, Kayden why he thought it was good to remember Noah. He didn’t know, so I told him that Noah listened to God and did what God told him. That is why we remember Noah. Kayden told me he wants to listen to God too. Yep, I’m starting them young!

Who could forget the story of Jacob? His story reminds me of the soap operas on daytime television not so long ago, the exception being that God was involved with Jacob’s life. Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph, had an equally amazing story to tell. God’s fingerprints were all over this young man from the very beginning. He had set a plan in motion from the time Joseph was born. I especially like Josephs’ story.

Everyone usually associates Joseph with his coat of many colors gifted to him by his father, Jacob. Like Joseph, my life growing up was not all roses and sunshine, and having excuses to hold grudges or unforgiveness was understandable. God had other plans for me, just like he did for Joseph. Forgiveness can be a learned experience, and blessings may come out of following God’s plan for it.

 I have continued to learn from studying my Bible. I confess I don’t do it as much as I should these days, but I will always be grateful for the invitation to attend that first small group Bible study. It set me on a good path.

Click to tweet: A small group Bible study changed my life and set me on my path of true healing. #Bible #smallgroups

Writing Prompt: Fanny Mae wanted to stay home on this rainy, chilly day. Her only reason to go out was she didn’t want to get behind in the Bible study of …………

Is There Room For Indie Publishing?

By Tammy Trail

The traditional publishing road reminds me in many ways of a dark alley without street lamps. At the end of the block is a shining orb of illumination where an author’s dreams are fulfilled. On that road to publication are potholes of promises not kept. Deep ruts of relentless proposals, and query letters with rejection notices. Like weeds on each side of the road killing off blossoms of hope for a book with your name on it. With this kind of image in mind, it is no small wonder that many wordsmiths are looking at other avenues of success, namely Indie Publishing.

I first thought this was also referred to as Self-Publishing. The more I researched, I found that this is not the case. Self-Publishing is hiring a publisher or press to pay to see your book in print. This is a risky business at best. Some works of print may not be edited well, have unattractive typesetting, and cost way more than it ought to for the privilege. A promise of marketing your book may be just getting it on a list for availability for wholesale before it reaches your local bookstore.

And then there is Amazon. Now granted, I have found no evidence in my research of plagiarized books in the Christian fiction market, but it has happened in other genres. We know how much of a creative toll our works of art take on us. The hours spent developing characters, plotting, and eye strain from spending time in front of a  computer is an investment. Then some unscrupulous, lazy writer comes along and steals your work. Not only do they steal it, they make money from your idea. One author confronted her attacker in an email. The thief apologized. With this apology email, the original author took their evidence to Amazon to demand her earnings. Others have not been so lucky. In Amazon’s defense, they now have a team of folks who watch for plagiarized material.Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Traditionally published authors didn’t like the idea of self-publishing either. It mocked the literary social norm. To be honest, some of those who flocked to get published quickly just want a book out there with their name on it. These works were flawed and set a bad example for a fledgling writer. They cheapened the hard work of big name authors. It has improved. More writers who follow this path are taking the time to pay for a good editor, realizing a good product produces better results.

Now Indie Publishing has once again rocked the boat. They have cut out the middle man, and all the bumps in the road by doing it all for themselves. From written word, to editing, typesetting, cover design and marketing. Is there a downside to this? I would imagine it takes a lot of time from blank page to whole book. Some would argue that if you honed your skills a bit and studied the craft more, a traditional publisher would eventually buy your book. On the other hand, there are writing styles and genre that the traditional publishers won’t even look at, and that is frustrating. Controlling your own piece of work without worry of what percentage of the profits will line your pockets is an incentive too.

As an Indie Published author, you are the product. You are the company that invests, markets, and gains the profit from your own written works. I don’t really see a downside to that, except that maybe all the middle man stuff could take away from the creative aspect of your work. Perhaps there is someone out there that has managed to do this well enough to teach the rest?

Time will tell.

Click to tweet: Indie publishing has once again rocked the boat. #IndiePub #amwriting

Writing prompt: Sally received another rejection letter. Crumpling it into a ball she vowed to…………

Makes Cents to Me!

by Tammy Trail

Our reality is we have no savings. We are rich in debt, and poor in cash flow. Can anyone else relate? My husband and I  struggle to save money. We have taken the Dave Ramsey course–Financial Peace University–our antelope has broken legs. Dave teaches that we should all have $1,000.00 emergency fund. Typically, when we can get a nice sum saved something happens. A car needs big repairs, an appliance goes on the fritz, or my husband’s commission check goes up in smoke.Our savings account may be bare, but we do manage to find ways to save money. It allows us to treat ourselves to a movie, or a nice meal in a restaurant.

I recall in my youth, our family would spend Sunday dinners seated around my Grandma Quigley’s big dining room table. My mother and I still marvel over how she fed all those family members with the meager salary my Grandpa brought home. Grandma sure knew how to make the food stretch, and I think she passed that gene onto me.

When my darling husband complains about spending too much at the grocery store I know it’s time to go back to my habit of making menus. It is a time-consuming task, but someone has to do it.

The family helps by giving meal suggestions. I take a blank calendar to give each day a meal. Then I pull out my box of recipes and begin making a list. I make columns for my list–one for meat, one for dairy, canned goods, produce, etc. Once I have my list done,   I make sure to have a quarter, and my own shopping bags for a visit to Aldi’s. The quarter is used to rent a shopping cart. You bag your own groceries. I usually buy all my produce, dairy, and canned goods here.

Next, is a stop at Sam’s Club. Here is where I purchase meats  in bulk, frozen vegetables, and frozen items the teenagers will eat for their lunches. After this trip, I spend a bit of time separating the meat to freeze. For instance, I buy a very large tube of ground beef and separate it into one pound zip lock bags for future use.

The plan is not to go back to the store for the month, unless it’s absolutely necessary. I will need to replenish paper goods, bread, and milk.  I try to restrain myself from buying anything else. Do I save money? Every time I go to the store without a plan, I spend $20.00 to $30.00 more. So, yes. I think I do save money.

I remember a time when we had no money for food, days away from a pay check. I took every leftover we had in the refrigerator and mixed it together, tossed cheese on top, and baked it. It was actually pretty good! My kids also know what happens when I tell them it’s the “end of the month slump”. That means beans and rice for a few days.

Click to tweet: Our savings may be bare, but we do find ways to save money.

Writing Prompt: Share your favorite money-saving trick when you go to the grocery store. Consider adding it to a story you’re working on.