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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Go, Dawgs!

by Gail Johnson

We are talking football this month! Favorite teams, colors, and tailgating recipes. Woo hoo! Are you a fan?

Sanford Stadium Wikicommons author Pruddle

Sanford Stadium, Wikicommons, photo: Pruddle

No one would call me a diehard fan. That would be my son, the one with all the red, white, and black memorabilia. But I do enjoy getting together with family and watching a college game now and then. For my family, that includes the Georgia Bulldogs. Here are a few stats for those unfamiliar with Georgia.

Sinkwich_bulldogs Wikicommons

Frank Sinkwich, Wikicommons

Inaugural season – 1892
UGA Fight Songs – Hail to Georgia, Glory, Alma Mater, Going Back, and Bulldog Marching Song
National Championships – 1927, 1942, 1946, 1968, 1980
Heisman Trophy Winners – Frank Sinkwich, Herschel Walker

And who can forget Coach Vince Dooley and announcer Larry Munson?

Tailgating Recipe

No matter the team playing or the fan watching, food is a must. Who can say no to a bowl of hot chili?

1 pound ground beef (85-15)
1/2 roll Jimmy Dean roll sausage
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 jar Paul Newman’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic sauce (Trust me. It’s just tomato sauce)
Salt and Pepper
1 packet Chilo seasoning (Or use your own)
½ – ¾ cup water
1 bag nacho cheese Doritos
1 carton sour cream
1 jar deli-sliced Tamed jalapenos

Herschel_Walker

Herschel Walker, Wikicommons

Directions
Place beef, tomatoes, Rotel, beans sauce, salt and pepper, chili seasoning, and water into a pot and cook until beef is done. Let simmer until ready to serve. Can be cooked in a crockpot. Serve in individual bowls over crushed Dorito with a dollop of sour cream and jalapenos. Enjoy.

Let the games begin! Go, Dawgs!

 

Click to Tweet: “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker #GoDawgs

Writing Prompt:
Unbelievable! Everyone in the stadium stood to their feet and waited for the referee…

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Get Ready for Some Football!

by Betty Thomason Owens

Hello, September! Another month nearly caught me by surprise, especially when I saw the topic for our articles. Football–College or NFL? I can hear my friends’ laughter right now, because those in the know, know I don’t like sports.

But, maybe I should clarify that remark. I can’t watch sports. Games stress me out. And heaven forbid I know someone on the team. I want to hide in a closet till it’s all over. Who won? Wait–just give me the bottom line here–I don’t want a play-by-play.

My husband is a fan, but not a fanatic. He won’t usually watch college games. His decor of choice regarding football, is yellow and black. Go Steelers! If I was a fan, we’d be at odds, because I was born in one of the most beautiful cities in the continental U.S.–Seattle! Oh, yes–we’d be mortal enemies when the season rolls around. So I keep to myself and only take part when it’s time to go to our favorite annual Superbowl party.

This month, we’ll be hearing from our usual crew members, as they share their favorites and hopefully a recipe or two. And we’ll host a couple of guests, one of whom is an absolute football fan-a-tic. Big time.

So get out your pom-poms, cheese-hats, or whatever else you like to wear or take to a ball game and get ready for some football!

Click-to-Tweet: Get ready for some #football! College, or #NFL? #recipes

Writing Prompt: April loved football, but she didn’t like the battle that ensued when…


Here’s my favorite tailgate/Superbowl recipe (Yum!):

This 7-Layer Mexican Dip is nothing but goodness! Layer after layer of deliciousness, piled high. It’s everyone’s favorite thing to dip their chips into, and so easy to make this winner of a dip!
Recipe type: appetizer
Serves: about 40
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 packets (1 oz each) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
  • 1 (12 oz) container sour cream
  • 4 medium to large avocados
  • Juice of half a lime
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh green onions, sliced
  • 1 (2.25 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
Directions
  1. In a heavy skillet, combine ground beef with 1 packet of taco seasoning. Stir well and cook on medium until cooked through. Drain. Combine cooked beef with refried beans and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream and 1 packet of taco seasoning mix. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, place peeled and seeded avocados and mash well. Add lime juice, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, kosher salt, garlic powder, and fresh black pepper. Set aside
  4. In a 9×13 or similar size serving dish, evenly spread the beef/bean mixture on bottom. Continue layering in the following order: sour cream mixture, guacamole, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheese. Top evenly with a layer of green onions and sliced olives. Wrap tightly, keep chilled, and serve with hearty corn chips.

Source:  Chew Out Loud 

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Alpha Males Can Cook

By Linda Wood Rondeau

in-the-kitchen-march-2016According to an article on the “Ask Men” website, though not stereotypical, the alpha male does have a few dominant traits:

  1. He is comfortable with crisis. He loves to win.
  2. He is unconcerned about self-image and is more focused on the tasks at hand. He likes to lead rather than follow. He operates according to his own game rather than follow someone else’s agenda.
  3. He will take up the fight with confidence.
  4. He is self-reliant and doesn’t take advantage of others expertise or position.
  5. He owns up to his mistakes and takes responsibility for his actions.
  6. Like a good boy scout, the alpha male is loyal and trustworthy.
  7. When confronted with the need to change, he does so with diligence and forethought.
  8. He does not lie or bend the truth to his advantage.
  9. He is respected because he respects others.
  10. He does not shy away from the big decisions.

This certainly describes my alpha male hubby who loves to cook. He’s always been willing to “man up” to any challenge, and has willingly shared household duties. He’s never even shied away from shopping for those girly products either.

Through most of our nearly forty years together, I’ve been the primary cook and managed meal preparations and planning. He’d fill in as necessary, as long as he did it, “his way.” His way often turned out to be quite good. Ask the kids, who said, “How come Dad’s pot roast tastes better than yours, Mom?” From then on, the hubs was king of the pot roast!

He might have retired, but my writing career became busier than ever after I published. So, it was decided my very alpha male husband would become primary cook. He met the challenge head on with great results. Even if his inventions didn’t quite pan out, he made no excuses, adapted his approach accordingly and tried again until he got it right.

pressure-cookerOur stash of appliances enlarged as he added a waffle iron, salad chopper, and sundry appliances deemed to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I think his favorite became the pressure cooker. I never used one. They scare me. He won’t use an electric pre-programmed one. It has to be stove top and man handled!

I think my favorite of all his creative recipes is his beef stew. As delicious as it is fast to prepare.

We had company for lunch, friends we hadn’t seen in years. My alpha male can operate on several levels at once. Not me. So he cooked. We stood in the kitchen and enjoyed our coffee oblivious to his fast action. Within fifteen minutes his famous beef stew was ready, complimented by buttery biscuits. Our friends were so amazed they snapped a picture as he labored in love.

Writer, how do you portray your alpha male? Note, the characteristics are not so much what they do but how they approach what they do. My alpha male hubby who loves to cook has always adapted the motto: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” Colossians 3:23 KJV.

in-the-kitchen-march-2016-beef-stew

For the curious…here’s my alpha male’s recipe:

Steve’s Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Ingredients –

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ – 2 lbs stew beef
1 large onion, cut up
4-5 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, peeled & cut into chunks
4 potatoes cut into chunks
1 ½ – 2 cups beef broth
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions –

Heat oil in bottom of cooker. When oil is hot, add meat all at once letting it sit for one minute to sear before stirring.  After meat is completely seared, add onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, bouillon cube and broth. Add salt & pepper if desired.

Lock lid with pressure setting on high.  After achieving pressure, cook for 15 minutes. Use natural release method.

Writing Prompt: “What do you mean can I cook?” Jason stood in front of me, hands on his hips. Uh oh. I’d done it now…


img_3790Winner of the 2012 Selah Award and Carol Award finalist LINDA WOOD RONDEAU writes to offer hope for those with damaged lives and demonstrate our worst past, surrendered to God becomes our best future. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida. When not writing, the author enjoys golfing, hiking, and spending time with her best friend in life, her husband of nearly forty years. Her recent release, Miracle on Maple Street, has already won the hearts of many.

Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com where they’ll find a list of her books, her blog, Snark and Sensibility. Email her at lindarondeau@gmail.com  or find her on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, Google Plus and Goodreads. 


Miracle on Maple Street

moms-final“Christmas is a time for miracles,” Ryan McDougal tells his mother, when he is told that a long lost cousin, Millie, has resurfaced after nearly forty years, the cousin whose picture his mother clasped the day his father abandoned him. Though they occurred decades apart, he always believed the two disappearances were connected like opposite links of a chain. With Millie’s arrival, perhaps he might finally receive the answers he so desperately sought. However, Ryan has a third thorn in his side, more devastating than any mystery. His wife, the love of his life, has left his arms and his bed. How long before she moves out of the house and takes his beloved son with her? He prays for his own Christmas miracle. Millie’s anticipated visit prompts Ryan’s mother to reveal secrets that bring all to light. However, when past and present collide, the truth is more than Ryan can bear.

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An Alabama-Inspired Thanksgiving

img_20141012_173651690By Jennifer Hallmark

Thanksgiving Day will soon arrive. I’ll wake early, eat a bowl of Cheerios and savor my morning cup of tea. As I hold the steaming mug, I’ll find comfort in its warmth and the sweetness of the honey-laced liquid inside. But only for a moment. Soon, thirty to forty people will crowd inside our home and there’s still much to do.

I’ll prepare part of the food on Wednesday. It releases some of the stress and flurry from this day and gives me more time to relax, be thankful, and maybe watch part of the early football game. But this morning, we’ll finish cooking. The savory smell of baked turkey permeates the air. It will soon be joined by cornbread dressing, pinto beans, sweet potato casserole, and yeast rolls. My husband, Danny, always makes the dressing, a recipe passed down from his mother. I scurry and pour the sweet tea in our three-gallon beverage dispenser. I’ll make a gallon of unsweetened tea but hardly anyone will drink it with the well-sugared kind around. We work as a team, making sure everything is just right.

thanksgiving-231781_960_720Around noon, we usually finish the last-second tasks and sit for a moment to eat a turkey sandwich. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, my husband and I will open our home to a hodgepodge of family, friends, and a few others who have nowhere to go. Everyone is welcome at our annual Thanksgiving feast.

By one o’clock, a few of the family has already arrived. Danny’s sister will open the front door and shout, “knock-knock” and I know the fun has begun. Each person arrives with different delectable dishes of food and we arrange them the best we can on the kitchen counters and stove top.

Football is still on the television but no one’s really watching as people drift from room to room. Handshakes and hugs abound as many catch up on old times. The garage doors have been shut and the space has been transformed into a dining room/fellowship hall. Large tables are set up for the adults. A special kids table, complete with coloring books and crayons sits by its side.

Mamaw Avon’s Pink StuffAt the appointed time, we all squeeze into the kitchen where my son or daughter will welcome everyone. One of the grandchildren will say “grace” before the long line forms to tackle the cafeteria-style selection of meats, vegetables, and casseroles that take up every inch of available space on the counters. Everyone loads their Chinet plates to the brim, grabs the plastic flatware and napkins and hunts a place to sit.

In the garage, large tables of sweet delights line one wall and hold twenty or more desserts, many new recipes that someone wanted to test on the crowd. Last year, I tried two pie recipes but neither turned out. I was teased over my pie “soup”. This year, I’ll stick with a cake and maybe some cookies. 🙂

800px-Pumpkin_Pie

Not my pie…

Before the afternoon is over, everyone will have eaten more than enough and recipes will have been swapped. Some will be scouring the day’s newspaper, planning to brave the crowds and start their Christmas shopping later in the evening. As a few linger behind to help me and Danny clean up, my heart swells with gratitude. I wouldn’t trade our Thanksgiving for anything.

For the next few days, we’ll munch on leftovers and when we warm our plate in the microwave, the fragrance of Thanksgiving will return. I’ll sit in the recliner and sip another cup of tea, content.

And thankful.


Someone usually makes a macaroni casserole at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe for you to try…

Macaroni Casserole

8 oz. package elbow noodles
1 jar chopped pimentos, drained and dried
1 jar sliced mushrooms, drained and dried
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Kraft American Cheese, grated (set one cup aside)
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped onion

Cook noodles; drain and place in large bowl. Grate cheese and set aside 1 cup. Stir together noodles, pimentos, mushrooms, soup, cheese (minus the cup), mayonnaise and onion. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. Bake 10 more minutes.


Writing Prompt: I pulled the spice cake from the oven. The aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon flowed through the house and set my stomach to rumbling. As I started to carry the heavenly confection across the kitchen…

Happy_Thanksgiving_sign


Jennifer Hallmark writes southern fiction and fantasy. Jennifer’s website and blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

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