An Ending and A Beginning

famous-inspirational-quote-no-act-of-kindness-no-matter-how-small-is-ever-wasted-21394562

By Jennifer Hallmark

2014 is almost over.

2015 is only hours away.

An ending.

A beginning.

Life is mixed with starts and finishes. Birth and death. New and old. It’s with a saddened heart that I write this last post on The Most Important Thing. Christina and I have enjoyed this year of sharing the good in the world; small ways that people are making a difference.

Christina and I can no longer run multiple blogs. The work in administration and writing article along with working on novels has brought me personally to a point of burnout. I’ve spent much time in prayer and thought of how I can reverse what I’ve basically put upon myself. I needed a new schedule. One a little more friendly and forgiving toward myself.

So for now, I’ll only be working with one blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! I hope in the future to start a more personal blog and connect it with my website.

Thank you for your support, comments, and encouragement throughout 2014. An ending followed by a new beginning. I look forward to all that 2015 holds for me and my family, friends, church, and community.

Remember:

Do all the good you can

By all the means you can

In all the ways you can

In all the places you can

At all the times you can

To all the people you can

As long as ever you can.

-John Wesley

 

 

Monday Meet: Small Acts of Kindness

Over the past year, I’ve so enjoyed hearing about the many acts of kindness that people have shown to one another. From help after natural disasters to fundraisers to simple gestures of love, people have loved others through their mercy and generosity.

storm

April 27 2011

I’ve witnessed many acts of kindness myself over the past few years. One that especially stayed with me was the way the community, my church and others, and especially Brethren Disaster Ministries reacted when my best friend Joyce lost her husband and all her earthly possessions during the April 27th 2011 tornadoes that caused such destruction in Alabama. Joyce shared with me her thoughts:

The first thing I can thank God for, after the storm, is that God knows the desires of our hearts. I prayed and hoped to see my husband saved. The day of the storm, after the tornado came through, we were lying on the ground, and I heard my husband, Mike, call out to God. I believe God allowed me to hear Mike call out “Oh God. Oh God,” so that I would have peace. We’ll never know what our loved one is thinking, or praying at the time they meet Jesus. I believe God will move heaven and earth to reach one lost sheep.

Words cannot express the outpouring of love and compassion for me and my family after the storm. While I was in intensive care unit at Parkway Hospital, my kids stayed at the Microtel on the Beltline. While they were there, someone blessed them with $100. Someone else paid for their room one night. It was truly amazing all the things that complete strangers did for them.

God took the ashes and debris from the storm and made something good come from it. I lost everything and God faithfully restored back more than I thought possible. I have to give all the glory to God because without Him I would not be here.

The Church of the Brethren worked diligently to take donated supplies and build her a nice house to replace what she’d lost. There was much destruction and so many needing help in our county alone and organizations like this one helped our overwhelmed community.

I also watched people go above and beyond their comfort zone to help my other best friend, Rose, during her battle with cancer. Fund raisers and help in ways too numerous to mention made her last months more bearable for her family and friends.

Then there are the small things.

  • The lady that waved me in front of her when I was trying to escape from a busy gas station back onto the four lane road.
  • The cashier at the fast food restaurant who had a display of plastic solar-powered dancing animals and plants on the window sill of the drive thru.
  • The children at church who always run up and hug me for no reason
  • Neighbors who helped us when the trees fell on our son’s house after a storm.
  • The encouraging card that came in the mail on just the right day.
  • All my friends that listened to me on the phone when drama was happening in my life. :)
  • The smiling greeters at the local Walmart.
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Jonathan and Nehar’s home

Small acts of kindness that make life just a little bit better. I’ve enjoyed the suggestions and hope I can be more aware of what I can do to make life better for someone else.

I hope you’ve received something from our Monday Meet stories.

I have.

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cake

pbDo you have a peanut butter lover in the family? I do. My step-dad loves everything peanut butter and this is his favorite cake. And I love the frosting so much I also use it with banana cake and chocolate cake…

 

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups brown sugar

6 eggs

3/4 cup soy or almond milk

1 1/2 cups softened dairy free margarine

2 tsp. vanilla

1 jar grape jelly

Grease and flour 2 9-in. round cake pans. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add milk and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Cool. Spread jelly between stacked layers, then top with peanut butter frosting.

Frosting:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup dairy free margarine

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

5-6 T. soy or almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla

In large bowl, mix peanut butter and butter until light and fluffy. Alternate adding milk and sugar until frosting is of spreading consistency. Add vanilla.

 

 

Monday Meet: The Tough Questions

20130512_114530We never thought we’d be empty nesters when our youngest son was just sixteen. He’d always been independent and mature, but sixteen?

Born and raised in Florida, he’d been surrounded by a tight network of friends that he’d known his whole life. He’d have been content to stay there until he graduated from the University of Florida, where all his friends planned to attend.

Hubby and I had other plans. Longing to escape the extreme humidity and high temps, we prayed for jobs in cooler climates. God told us no…for twenty years.

I guess our son never expected God would finally say yes. But He did.

Uprooting our son mid-year in tenth grade wasn’t ideal, and the NC county we were moving to didn’t offer the International Baccalaureate program. He would have lost credits by transferring, so we arranged for him to stay and finish the school year with relatives.

He spent the following summer in North Carolina with us, but he was miserable. So he moved back to Florida. Without telling us. This mother’s heart shattered into a million pieces. But that wasn’t the worst of it. We learned that we could drag him back, but nothing could prevent him from leaving again.

“You’re a terrible mother.” The enemy’s lies slithered in. Just like Eve, I pointed the finger of blame at my husband, but he spent long hours working. I blamed God. Why wait until our son was so ensconced in high school, when friendships were so important to him, to move us? I stopped writing, eating, sleeping.

God heard my cry and answered with a sweet husband who recognized we needed help and a Christian counselor who asked some tough questions. Why not let him stay? Give up our son? How could I possibly do that? What would it do to your relationship if you forced him to come back? I couldn’t fathom the answer to that one. After a few sessions and much prayer, God’s gentle whispers finally seeped into my broken spirit.

If it weren’t for my husband and this Christian counselor, who asked the tough questions and helped us see that our relationship was worth the distance and the cost, our family might have disintegrated.

Hubby and I adjusted to the empty bedroom, the vacant chair at dinner, and the steady stream of cash to Florida. We counted the days until the occasional long weekend visits and holiday breaks. For his senior year, we rented an apartment, and I split my time between both places.

It was all worth it. Especially that moment when he walked across the stage of the Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina to accept his diploma. Yes, you read that right. He graduated from the University of North Carolina! God definitely has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

What about you? What tough questions have you faced during a particularly difficult time?

Contributed by Dora Hiers

Website: http://www.dorahiers.com

Email: Dora@DoraHiers.com

Blogs: http://dorahiers.blogspot.com/ and http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorahiers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DoraHiers

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dorahiers/

A Mentor When the Need Was Greatest

melanieAfter a long lapse in writing, I dove back into the craft in 2010. Honestly, I’m not sure I had any idea what I was doing! I bounced around between writing fictional children’s books, nonfiction children’s books, and novels for teens. I participated in NaNoWriMo in fall of 2010, and what I ended up with was an attempt at a YA historical fiction.

Over the months, I’d learned enough to know I needed to read some other books in this genre to give me an idea of how to revise. After digging through the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble, I came across The Healer’s Apprentice—a Christian YA historical by Melanie Dickerson.

I had never read Melanie’s book—never met Melanie, or even heard of her—but I noticed on the back of the book that she lived near me. Very near me.

Doing what all people do these days, I hurried home and Googled Melanie Dickerson. I found an email address (along with the knowledge that Melanie’s book had won an award!), and I shot her a short note to let her know I’d grabbed a copy of her book and was looking forward to reading it. I also let her know I had written a YA historical.

Melanie emailed me back (which I never expected, as we didn’t even know each other!). She was so kind, and offered to keep in touch. She quickly let me know there was a local group of Christian writers, and asked if I’d like to meet with them. I jumped at the chance!

Melanie took me under her wing without looking back. She introduced me to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and her excellent books helped me learn so much about what I needed to make my own manuscripts shine. That YA historical I wrote during NaNo didn’t make it out of the trenches, but other books I’ve written have gone on to garner contracts.

My friendship with Melanie has only deepened over the years. She never hesitates to answer my tedious questions, and I consider her a dear friend and mentor. I can only aspire to being such a friend to another writer in need, when the time comes. Thanks, Melanie!

Contributed by Katie Clark 

www.katieclarkwrites.com

Vegan Dessert Pizza from Milk Free Mom

220px-Semi-sweet_chocolate_chipsThis dessert pizza would make a great appetizer or dessert at your next holiday gathering. I thank Lyndsay Homme of Milk Free Mom for letting me share this recipe…

 

a 7 or 8 inch pre-made vegan or regular pizza crust

1 tablespoon vegan or dairy free butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 bananas
1 1/2 tablespoon all natural peanut butter (other nut butters can also be used, such as Sunbutter)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
tablespoon or so of coconut milk (other vegan milks can be substituted)

Mix the butter and brown sugar together in a small bowl using a fork. Spread evenly on your pizza crust, and cook the crust according to manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the crust, and spread the peanut butter evenly over the top. Place the banana slices over the peanut butter, slightly overlapping them. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, one minute at a time, stirring between cooking. Add your coconut milk a teaspoon or so at a time, until you get a consistency that will allow you to easily drizzle it. Once you’ve reached a good consistency, drizzle the chocolate over the pizza. Cook for about 10-15 minutes to warm, but don’t let your bananas start to brown. Slice and enjoy!

For more great recipes that are milk free, check her site...