Motivation For The Future

By Jennifer Hallmark

Where were you twenty years ago? I still lived in the first house we bought a year after we married. My children were not yet teens and I was writing a few Bible studies, papers I called them, just for my own enjoyment.

Life has majorly changed. We moved twice since then. Now my children are grown and married and I have six grandchildren. Writing is my career and I’m seeing some of my dreams realized.

During the month of October,  we discussed both personal changes and worldwide change.  Twenty years held good and not so good inventions. Tragedy and triumph.

We lived through Y2K and 911. I made it through my husband’s plant closing, my children’s teenage years, and the deaths of friends and family.

Life. These posts leave me with one question.

How will I embrace the future? The world is not safe. #MondayMotivation #InspiredPrompt

There are no guarantees. I’m not promised tomorrow.

But still I remain enthusiastic. Ready to start another Monday with hope. A new month with a small smile on my face. Why? Because as long as I’m here on this earth, I have purpose. I believe with my whole heart that God has a plan for me and it is good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  

My motivation for the future…

Alabama Football: NFL Ready

By Jennifer Hallmark

Alabama versus Florida State. The game of the year. The decade. The century. By the time you read this, it will be just another statistic in the history books. Hopefully, Alabama was the victor.

But whether or not Alabama scored the most points, its players are NFL ready. How do they get this way? What’s the secret?

If you ask Nick Saban, it’s the Process, a name he’s given to his style of coaching. Saturday Down South asked Ronnie Harrison and he said, “The Process is like a transformation, I would call it, from going from a young man in high school to a grown man in college,” he told me. “Off the field, with education and all the meetings and stuff that we have, all the player-development stuff that we have, that develops your mind mentally for it. And then on the field, all the workouts, all the hard work and stuff that we do, that’s The Process. If you trust The Process and trust the hard work and be dedicated to it, you’ll come out on top.” Check out Saturday Down South’s website for more on the Process.

No matter how you explain it, it works. The players are expected to play for the team, not their individual glory. They don’t try to beat their opponent each week. Instead, they try to better themselves each game. You don’t want to be the weak link if you play for “Bama.” Unless you want to watch the game from the bench.

The quarterback position seems to be the one exception. Starting in 2007, when Saban took over the team, John Parker Wilson, Greg McElroy, AJ McCarron, Blake Sims, and Jake Coker have all played quarterback for Alabama. McCarron is the only one still on an active roster.

Click to tweet: Alabama players. How do they get NFL ready? #SEC #NFL

Could Jalen Hurts be the one to take it to the next level? He runs and he throws. Far. He’s young but the best hope for a true NFL career that we’ve seen in a while. Bama fans hope he stays in school a long time before going to the bigger stage.

The most NFL ready players may be the cornerbacks and safeties, who are coached by Saban himself. Other coaches think Saban is unsurpassed as a secondary authority. His detailed coaching on DB technique stands alone.

Marlon Humphrey and safety Eddie Jackson were the 13th and 14th defensive backs drafted since Saban has been in Tuscaloosa. And the other defensive players are no slouches either. Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Tim Williams were all drafted in 2017. Ten players totaled, the most in school history.

And the new season has just begun. I wonder how the draft on April 26-28, 2018 will go? I’ll have my DVR set so I won’t miss a moment. Which school will have the most players drafted?

I don’t know, but I bet you’ll see a lot of Crimson.

And if you like Alabama football, make sure and check out my “Roll Tide” Pinterest board at https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/roll-tide/

Writing Prompt: “Roll Tide?” The woman in orange squared her shoulders and faced the elephant mascot. She then proceeded to…

And do you like tailgating? Then try this hearty recipe for goulash that you can make ahead…

Danny’s Goulash

Ingredients

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 large onions, chopped
1 or 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups water
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Nature Seasoning
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 or 2 cans of whole kernel corn, drained (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste at end

Directions

In a skillet, sauté the ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sautéing. Drain on paper towels. Place in large Dutch oven and add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, soy sauce, Nature Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Add corn. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt and pepper if needed. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving.

Save

Running With the Horses

By Jennifer Hallmark

Jeremiah.

The Weeping prophet.

A man commanded by God not to marry or have children. Scorned by many because of his message of doom he continually cried out to the people of Israel.

A man on a mission.

Why do I consider Jeremiah my favorite book in the Bible? His genuineness and honesty. I see a man who was real and obeyed God. Jeremiah showed compassion toward his homeland, Israel, and yet wasn’t afraid to address the rulers, priests, and false prophets who had led the people into idolatry. He was called as a youth and admitted trying to avoid the call but couldn’t.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. Then said I: ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.'” Jeremiah 1: 5 NKJV

“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.’
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.'” Jeremiah 20:9 NKJV

As a writer, Jeremiah’s words are beautiful, full of melancholy, yet memorable. He uses repetition and symbolism throughout the book, along with poetry. He thinks and feels deeply.

My love of this book increased after reading Eugene H. Peterson’s book, Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best. This study parallels the book of Jeremiah to our lives today. Here’s a little more about it…

In Jeremiah 12:5, God says to the prophet, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” 

We all long to live life at its best–to take freedom and spontaneity with purpose and meaning. Why then do we often find our lives so humdrum, so unadventuresome, so routine? Or else so frantic, so full of activity, but still devoid of fulfillment? How do we learn to risk, to trust, to pursue wholeness and excellence–to run with the horses in the jungle of life?

In a series of profound reflections on the life of Jeremiah the prophet, Eugene Peterson explores the heart of what it means to be fully and genuinely human. His writing is full of humor and self-reflection, insight and wisdom, helping to set a course for others in the quest for life at its best.

As a rule, I’m cautious and reserved but I read this book at a time when I was newer to writing and it helped me move forward when I wasn’t sure I could.

This year, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament and in August I came to Jeremiah. I’m reminded again why I love this beautifully written, hauntingly sad reflection penned in a day and time when false peace covered the land.

A time much like today.

Who among us will cry out against injustice today?

Who is willing to run with the horses?

Click to tweet: Why do I consider Jeremiah my favorite book in the Bible? #BibleStudy #amwriting

Writing prompt: Leila stopped. Once again the neighbor across the street had pulled up her sign proclaiming God is Love. What was his problem? This was her yard. She…

Digital Coupons: Click and Save

Hi! Jennifer Hallmark here. I’m super excited about our topic this month: Best Ways to Save Money. I don’t know about you, but I’m always searching for new methods to stretch a dollar. Be sure to drop by every Monday and Friday in June for a new post. And now, my take on digital coupons.

Extreme couponing. I tried it. Bought the special notebook, fixed all the tabs inside, and purchased a newspaper. According to the instructor (yes, I even went to a class), the money would soon be rolling in.

Except that was the only newspaper I ever bought. By the time I clipped all the coupons and filled my notebook, I was confused. And you don’t even want to know about the shopping trip with me stumbling all over Publix.

It didn’t work.

Now I’m not saying it won’t work, because people have proven it does. It just didn’t work for me. So I put my notebook in a drawer and whispered a prayer. “God, if I’m going to save money, there has to be an easier way.”

Cue the angelic choir.

Did you know your smart phone can carry digital coupons?  I’m no expert at this but I can tell you how it works with the stores that I clip them from. You can add what you want and when the coupon expires, it disappears. Most stores probably work in similar ways. Just get out your smart phone and let’s start collecting coupons and saving money.

The area I live in is very rural so I do most of my shopping in the small town of Moulton, fifteen miles away. The stores I use for couponing are Dollar General, CVS, and Gateway Foodland. I also use Publix digital coupons, but it’s about 35 miles away. Let’s start with the one I use most.

Dollar General-go to their website and sign up. Then you can go to digital coupons. You can look through the available coupons and add what you want to your phone. When I get an email with their new ad, I go to the coupon section and add more. At the moment, I have 292 coupons. Any time I’m shopping I can look through my coupons and add them to my list. If I’m in a hurry, I still enter my phone number in the payment terminal before I check out so it will look over my coupons for me. I’ve saved $99.43 so far using these coupons.

Gateway Foodland & PublixI do the same thing. Make an account, add coupons, then start saving. I have 190 coupons loaded at Foodland and close to that at Publix. And new coupons come each Wednesday to my email.

CVSThis one is a little different. I signed up for their extra care card since I purchase my prescriptions here. I add their deals from the app on my phone. I also get extra care bucks back (I have to spend at CVS) when I fill so many prescriptions and at different times get coupons for a percentage off certain items.

I love couponing this way. Wednesday is usually the day I sit down, add all my coupons, and make my list. I can have everything added in thirty minutes or less and make my list for shopping.

One more tip of a way I save money. I have the Wal-Mart app on my phone and I’m signed up for Savings Catcher. Again, I first created an account. I scan each receipt as I get them and they search for all the stores in the area for a lower price. Say, if Foodland has milk cheaper in their ads, Wal-Mart loads the difference on an e-shopping card. So far, I’ve saved over $50 from price compare.

Hooray! I can chunk the notebook, put my scissors away, and rid myself of the headache. I wonder what people will think up next?

Click to tweet: “God, if I’m going to save money, there has to be an easier way.”

Writing Prompt: Cassie gripped my hands, her eyes pleading. “But by using digital coupons, I can save enough to pay for my phone in less than a year.”

I shook my head. Then…

Save

Save

Teaching Life Lessons to Your Children and Grandchildren

By Jennifer Hallmark

May, at the Writing Prompts blog, is all about families and children. We have a wide variety of posts to share since this topic is so full of possibilities. Today, my thoughts are on teaching your children life lessons. My children are grown, but I have six grandchildren who can profit from the wisdom and experience I’ve gleaned over the years.

I love object lessons. When my daughter and son were young, I enjoyed explaining different truths by using simple items that I had around the house. They were able to better understand what the Bible says and I believe it stuck with them. Jesus gave us the pattern through His use of parables. Here’s one of my favorite ones below that you and your family might try.

Jigsaw Puzzle Activity

An ordinary jigsaw puzzle provides a meaningful family activity to help your child or grandchild learn about the body of Christ. Begin with a simple puzzle, twenty-four to two hundred pieces, depending upon their age. Encourage each child to examine the pieces as they remove them from the box.

Consider these questions:

(1)        How are the pieces alike?

(2)        How are they different?

(3)        Can one piece be effective by itself?

Discuss how each piece consists of different colors and designs. Though similar, each piece has its own individual characteristics.

Take a moment to read I Corinthians 12:12-27. As you cradle a puzzle piece in your hand, explain how God gifted every person with talents and abilities, unique to them.

As your family builds the puzzle, mention the fact that each piece only fits in a certain place, the same way God has a given place and plan for each life.

Each piece connected together completes the puzzle in the same way each individual in the body of Christ works together to learn and grow, leading people to a relationship with Jesus. Take a moment to elaborate on the ways each person in the congregation contributes to reaching your community for Christ.

Now it’s your turn. What can you use in your house to illustrate truth? Share some examples below in the comments…

Click to tweet: Teaching life lessons to your children and grandchildren.

Writing Prompt: Take a broom or a mop and think of a simple analogy to explain a life lesson to a child. Share it with our readers. 🙂