Dairy Free Potato Salad

thanksI guess its a southern thing, but we almost always have potato salad at our family gatherings and always on Thanksgiving. Give it a try. Start a new tradition with your holiday meal…

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 T. white vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. pepper

4 cups cooked, peeled, cubed potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion [optional, I don't put it in mine]

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Nature Season’s seasoning blend to taste

Paprika to decorate

In a large bowl, stir mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper until smooth. Add other ingredients. Stir well. Sprinkle paprika over top. Cover and chill.

Monday Meet: Never Underestimate the Small Things

giftwrap1It’s said 70% of all people feel like an imposter—like they’re not good enough, qualified enough, spiritual enough. As a high school dropout who once spent time on the streets, I’ve lived a good chunk of my life feeling like a fraud, unlovable, unworthy. Scripture tells us God is loving toward all His creation, that He knit me together in my mother’s womb, that He has a plan for me, and that I am created anew in Christ Jesus. But grabbing hold of those truths, especially when everything within me said otherwise, took decades of undoing.

And it all started with a small, quickly forgotten gift.

It was six, maybe seven years, since I’d been on the streets. With the help and support of others, largely my husband, I managed to get my feet back under me, earned my GED, and began taking college classes. God moved us to Southern California and plopped this deeply broken and ashamed young woman in the heart of suburbia.

Surrounded by the highly educated and cultured, I quickly learned to play the part: doting wife—check. Attentive mother—check. Organized housewife who kept her floors immaculate, her toilet bowls sparkly, and her family fed on the healthiest meals all cooked from scratch. My hair was always done, make-up flawless, clothing fashionable.

And no one knew that I didn’t fit. No one except me, and I never forgot, for my broken, lie-filled heart wouldn’t let me.

Lies. They say we all have them. Insidious deceptions that relentlessly play through our mind, enslaving us. Keeping us from experiencing the abundant freedom available to us through Christ.

That’s where I was, but that wasn’t where I stayed, for God, in His infinite mercy began to shatter my deception with truth, replacing my self-loathing with divine purpose and peace.

It all began with a song given to me by one woman I hardly knew. In fact, I found her weird. She was one of those ladies that alwaycdrom_jpgs wore a smile and had a bounce in her step. She had a way of making you feel loved, special, valuable—which of course I knew wasn’t true. Perhaps that’s why I found her so strange.

One morning as I was leaving a women’s Bible study group, hurrying to my car before I said or did anything to let the other women know just how out of place I was, this lady hurried up to me.

“I have something for you,” she said, and she handed me a self-recorded CD. On it, in permanent marker she’d written, “You’re my Little Girl.”

This, of course, confirmed to me my assessment of her. She was strange, for why else would she give me such a thing—anything for that matter. And why me? She hardly knew me. I’d said maybe a handful of words to her, all of them awkward and bumbling.

But I thanked her then promptly put the CD away, soon forgetting about it entirely. Until two years and two moves later when God began doing a major work; a major healing in my heart.

A healing that, initially, left me completely undone, for oftentimes in order to truly heal, God must first rip off the Band-Aids we’ve layered over our old, festering wounds. Sort of like what doctors do to burn patients.

And it was then, in my broken state, when old wounds I’d shoved down for decades began to resurface beneath my Surgeon’s Hands, that I remembered this CD.

I pulled it out and listened, with tears streaming my face, and through the words I heard God say to me, “I love you. I saw you. I know, and I get it. And I’m sorry.”

It was but a simple song, but a simple act, this woman handing it to me, and unless God revealed all this to her, she has no idea  what an impact that simple CD had on me. She has no idea if I even listened to the song or not.

But God knows, and so do I.

I will never forget.

Sometimes the simplest of acts can bring about the greatest healing. Don’t disdain the small things.

You can listen to this song here: 

 

Contributed by Jennifer Slattery

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

 

 

Amelia’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens

BTO-2Portrait

 

 

Today we welcome Betty Thomason Owens to The Most Important Thing. Her debut novel, Amelia’s Legacy, has just released.

 

(1)  What inspired you to write Amelia’s Legacy?

Betty: I’d written only Westerns—several of them—which may never see the light of day. I wanted to write something different, so I sat down and typed out a scene. Nancy, sitting in a chair, enduring another lecture from the authority figure in her life – her grandmother, Amelia.

(2)  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Betty: Nancy is a lot like me. She tended to lose herself in vain imaginations. She longed for adventure and thought she could live on the “wild side,” and nearly lost herself in the process. She was much too tender-hearted to be the “wild child” she desired to be. A good thing, I think. What Nancy really longs for is forgiveness, acceptance, and love.

(3)  Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Betty: I am currently working on Carlotta’s Legacy, the second in the Legacy series. Nancy’s best friend, Rebecca Lewis is the main character. After her family loses everything, she decides to marry an Italian count who’s crazy about her, but she’s not sure about him. Along the way, she finds love and the family she’s always longed for. Rebecca’s a lot of fun to write.

(4)  Do you have any advice for other writers?

Betty: Be teachable. Learn the craft of writing. It’s a work-in-progress for me. I’ll never learn everything, but I want to go for it. There are such wonderful teachers out there. And so many wonderful, talented writers.

(5)  Coffee or Tea?

Betty: Coffee. Definitely. Now.

Thanks, Betty, for dropping by!

Amelia's Legacy FRONT Cover (2)

 

Amelia’s Legacy

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes! Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy. Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge. As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

 

Betty Thomason Owens loves a grand adventure, especially when there’s humor involved. Raising three sons has been her greatest humor-filled experience. Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat BachelorShe has two fantasy-adventure novels in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

You may also connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, andGoogle+.
To purchase her books: Betty’s Books

 

Monday Meet: Clergy Appreciation Month

fall-church-hill-crossesOctober is Clergy Appreciation Month and the second Sunday in October Clergy Appreciation Day. Can you think of an act of kindness you can do for a minister and their family? Below is an article from a Focus on the Family site, The Thriving Pastor. You can go to this site for more ideas on how to honor someone in the Clergy…

 

Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the church and the community. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.

That’s why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

The good news is that we can make a difference! Clergy Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need.

Don’t your pastors and their families deserve this kind of recognition? Do something about it today!

Dairy Free Grape Salad

grapesIt’s the holidays and I love a good fruit salad as a side or desert. Here’s a great one…

Ingredients:

4 lbs. red seedless grapes [I mix in green ones also for the color]

16 oz. Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese

8 oz. Tofutti Better than Sour Cream

1 cup pecans, chopped fine

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup or less brown sugar

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, half the nuts, and white sugar. Fold in grapes. Smooth into 9 x 13 dish. Mix remaining nuts and brown sugar [more or less than a cup according to your taste] Sprinkle over the top of grape mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

Monday Meet: One Act of Kindness

We never know when we perform an act of kindness to another, especially a stranger, what that act will lead to or what it might mean to that person. Here’s my story of one such act of kindness that changed my life.fall border redone

Without this person’s kindness, I am almost certain my writing career wouldn’t be.

It was a few years ago—probably 2009. I’d been writing for 14 long, long years—and no traditional book contracts. Anyway, I had sent out my latest book proposal to agents and publishers.

Several responded positively by wanting the full manuscript. Yay! A good sign that my writing was improving. More and more often, I would get requests for the full manuscript, but that was where it stopped. No offers to be my agent or publisher.

Just anothWTerryWhalinHeadShotMediumer dead end! Sigh!

Then I received an email from one agent, Terry Whalin, that he would be calling me. You can imagine my excitement. I was sure he was calling to offer to represent my book. Oh, my dream was almost a reality.

But I was wrong!

I ignored the sting of yet another rejection as he told me my writing wasn’t quite ready, but he had some suggestions for me. Terry told me if I was serious about my writing, I should join American Christian Fiction Writers.

So I did.

And what a blessing that turned out to be. I learned so much in a short period of time. And by December 2010, I had my first book contract! And two weeks later, a second one! And now, I’m up to contract number 7!

Talk about being grateful—my sixth traditionally-published book-REDEMPTION-was recently released, and I have a contract for a seventh and working on an eighth. Anyway, I can assure you I am one grateful writer. Each new contract and book is a cause for celebration!

And none of it would have happened without the act of kindness on Terry’s part to take the time to call me. I don’t know why he did, but I’m very glad for his act of kindness.

Thanks so much, Terry Whalin.

Contributed by Lillian Duncan

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at www.lillian-duncan.com.