Change and A Fresh Start

By Jennifer Hallmark

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, my friends, and are looking forward to a Happy New Year, a fresh start in 2018. We’ve so enjoyed spending time with you in 2017 as we talked about writing, life, family, and everything else. The last five years have been a blessing to me and each member of our Crew.

Next year, our blog will see new and exciting changes. We’ll be more focused with a specific audience in mind. And we’ll have a new name. The Crew is hard at work in order to get everything ready in time for the new year. Want to know more? Then don’t miss our January 1st post for all the details.

I love the last week of the year. For me, it’s a chance to take a breath, put away Christmas decorations, and finish 2017 strong. Here are steps you can take to help move from Christmas into the New Year that I found in Jack Hayford’s book Come and Behold Him...

  • Fast and pray- seek God. Remember. Renew.
  • Read a meaningful (to you) book of the Bible.
  • Redecorate the house for the New Year. It is very important to start the New Year fresh and alive!
  • Send thank you notes and letters.
  • Summarize and organize-write a list of things that you were not able to accomplish in 2017- check off any that are not important and set a few goals for 2018.

These small steps help me focus on what lies ahead. Thank you again for spending time at our blog and we hope to see you often in the future.

Remember: Don’t miss January 1st

Click to tweet:  The last week of the year is a chance to take a breath, put away Christmas decorations, and finish 2017 strong. Here are steps you can take to help move from Christmas into the #NewYear #2018

Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway III


Wow. Christmas is truly just around the corner. I still have shopping to do, blog posts to write, and cookies to bake. Not to mention parties to attend and family get-togethers, well, to get together. But let’s take a moment to pause and let y’all know who won our Once Upon A Christmas Giveaway III.

 

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

We offered three sets of prizes for our grand prize winners.

First giveaway prize package – $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, Books Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women (hardback) and The Reason by William Sirls (paperback)

Second giveaway prize package– $25 Starbucks gift card, Books The Tilting Leaves of Autumn by Robin E. Mason (signed paperback) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game (paperback)

Third giveaway prize package – $25 Subway gift card, jewelry, Books A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens (ebook) and The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael (paperback)

Now the moment you are all waiting for:

drum rollWe are happy to announce three big winners:

(1)First giveaway- Laura Zimmerman

(2)Second giveaway-Sonnetta Jones

(3)Third giveaway-Sum Dietzel

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon so we can send those gifts to you. A big thank you to everyone that entered. It was by far our best contest yet…

Stay tuned to all the big changes ahead in 2018…And don’t forget our weekly 3 Questions Wednesday interviews.

fireworks 2

December: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

By Jennifer Hallmark

Wow. Christmas will arrive in twenty-four days. The physical signs are all around us. Even without a calendar, I’d know because there are things I love and a few I don’t even like about this season that I don’t see at any other time of year.

What makes me happy?

  • Shopping. I like trying to find a special gift to make friends and family smile.
  • Decorations. I enjoy decorating my house, driving around looking at adorned houses, even the way the stores and shops show all their festive colors of the season.
  • Contemplation and prayer. I take time to remember the reason for the season and pray, especially for the less fortunate.
  • Enjoying school days off with the grandbabies. I love spend the night fun and Christmas movie watching.

What makes me less than happy?

  • The traffic. Everyone is out and in a hurry.
  • The endless commercials on television. I tend to use the ‘mute’ button a lot these days.
  • The long lines. Though I tend to be fairly even-tempered, the stores test even my patience level.

I love the holidays. Not so much the hustle and bustle, but the joy and Small Acts of Kindness that surround this time of year. People give, care, and share more during the season of love.

Click to tweet: Christmas. People give, care, and share more during the season of love. #Christmas @InspiredPrompt

One of my favorite events in the holiday season is our Once Upon a Christmas giveaway. This is the third year and the prizes are better than ever for three blessed winners. Make sure you go to Rafflecopter and enter today. Contest ends December 13th.

$25 Barnes & Noble gift card

$25 Subway gift card

$25 Starbucks gift card

Jewelry

And six books:

A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens (e-book)

The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael (paperback)

The Tilting Leaves of Autumn by Robin E. Mason (paperback, signed)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game (paperback)

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women (hardback)

The Reason by William Sirls (Paperback or e-book)

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.

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