Belchertown Football Awards Banquet

Friday December 7, 2018  —  6pm @ the Ludlow Country Club


In honor of my son, Caleb, the High School football team decided to retire his number 55 jersey (no player will wear that number again) and set it on the sidelines of every game this past season w/ a football he practiced with, to remember the inspiration he gave to the team and especially as a reminder to…

“Look out for your friends.”


Given the opportunity to speak at the Awards Banquet, I gave the team members two words and a question.

Determination & Strategy;

the first is a decision word, a call to act and the second , a thinking and planning word.  Both are needed to win the game on the field and both are needed to win at life as well. Caleb demonstrated both as co-captain of the team in 2016. He excelled and inspired others to excel, often encouraging others to never give up and to strive to do better. Tools of hard work, perseverance, self control and commitment were qualities learned and fostered on the field – tools equipping him for the game and for his life ahead.

Unfortunately, when injury ended his sports involvement mid-Senior year and surgery was imminent, depression set in. While depressed he exchanged a good strategy for life for a poor one and became addicted to drugs; he lost ability to use his tools effectively as the illness of addiction consumed him. It can happen to anyone. My son did not expect or want to become addicted. He wanted so many good things and had plans for a future. Despite his attempt to muster all the determination he had to fight against addiction – he lost the battle.

I spoke about dopamine and genetic predisposition…

Ending, the question I asked of the team was this:

What does “looking out for your friends” actually look like?

It involves determination and strategy (!) : you need to decide to actually make a commitment to look after your friends and you need a plan as to how to carry that out – sometimes you will have to run long and take risks that include sacrifice. Caleb knew about sacrifice because he knew our Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior; Jesus is the ultimate example of sacrificing for others and He tells us we need to put others needs before our own.  That means helping a friend when it is not convenient, easy, or popular perhaps.

Questions like:

Will you stand out and speak up and urge your friend to not partake of substances? 

Are you willing to risk rejection by doing the right things?

We all mess up and make mistakes;  but, always remember the good person, the good athlete, the good friend underneath the mistakes and do what you can to help them in their hour of need to stay on track with determination and a good strategy for their life off the field.

Your willingness to run long might just save your friends life, literally or figuratively.

This is a message my husband and I wanted to convey to the team, especially to the Seniors who played alongside Caleb two years ago.

Thank you Belchertown Football team, for remembering Caleb

and for honoring him this football season!




Food-Hugs for the Unlikely Guests

TODAY, I am speaking to you, who are reading:

“Holiday Main Courses”… that is my mission,

but it won’t be what you think!

In years past, my holiday spread has focused on long standing traditional meals based on menu’s created by previous generations; this has been good and my own family counts on these traditions! I could offer you recipes on a garlic stuffed crown pork roast or delectable salt crusted beef spoon roast – but, in truth – you could get those recipes online in a jiffy.

This year, everything is different.

This Christmas is the first Christmas without my son; You see… in case you did not know, this past May, my son died of a drug overdose.


My heart is broken.

Traditions, seem hollow.

Different, is a must this year.

My son lived in a local sober house last winter and we became friends with some of the guys who mentored him; these guys are from next towns over and many states away – if it wasn’t for my son, we never would have met, or entertained, these young men in recovery.  After my son died, we felt it only right to continue these relationships and encourage them in their recovery; it’s what my son would have wanted.011.jpg

Comfort food is the best, no matter what the day or holiday, so what you will find here are some hearty old fashioned recipes with a twist (cuz that’s just what I do). The guys from the sober house LOVE a home-cooked meal and especially ones that remind them of their mom’s and grand-moms. I delight to give food-hugs for the unlikely guests as a way to express my support and care for them in a momma-heart way.

All this equals L O V E … the best Christmas gift, is LOVE.

And love is just what a Holiday Main Course needs; without it, it’s just ingredients on a plate.  I challenge you to use one of these recipes and give a food-hug to an unlikely guest, or two, and see what joy will grow and warm you own heart. God blesses us, so that we can be a blessing to others.



010-e1543792879120.jpgDoctored-Up Shepherd’s Pie

(serves 10 healthy eaters)

(1) 5lb bag of gold potatoes  & 4 cloves of garlic – wash the potatoes & diced them , boil them in a pot of water with the garlic cloves til tender and drain them (BUT reserve 1 cup of the garlic potato broth.)

To the mashed potatoes, add: 1 stick of butter, salt & pepper to taste, and about 1 cup of vegetable broth and the 2 cups of the garlic potato broth and first mash them by hand, then whip them with an electric beater til smooth and creamy – add some milk if needed to make a creamier consistency — set aside.

Next, slice up one large Vidalia onion and a 16oz. or so package of baby portabella mushrooms and sauté them in a large fry pan with some olive oil til tender. Add in a 16 oz. bag of frozen baby corn. Mix well and set aside in a large bowl.

In the same large fry pan, brown up and cook 5 lbs of lean ground beef over medium high heat, stirring regularly with 2 1/2 TBS of Tarragon and  1TBS of  granulated  garlic powder & salt and pepper to taste. 

Assemble the pie in a  large 12 x 18 baking dish. Layer the ground beef mixture on the bottom, add the onion, mushroom, corn mixture on top of the meat. ADD in a layer of sharp Cheddar cheese (about a 12 oz. bar of cheese grated), then, finish it off by topping the casserole with all the potatoes.  Sprinkle the potatoes with some paprika, salt & papper.

Bake the pie for approximately 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven, uncovered. Serve immediately.


Lemon-Curry Chicken Divan over Rice

(Probably serves 8- healthy eaters)

Measure out 3 cups of Jasmine rice, sauté in a large stockpot with half a stick of butter, until slightly browned – add 6 cups of water and cover and cook til boiling, then turn down heat to low heat and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, then shut heat off and let sit on the stove.

oops and these ingredients too:

Dice up 2 large heads of fresh broccoli (florets only) & 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts and sauté  in 3 TBS of olive oil, half a stick of butter and 1 tsp. of granulated garlic powder in a large fry pan until broccoli is lightly browned, then add 1/2 cup of water and 1 TBS of lemon juice to pan and cover and simmer all on low heat til the broccoli is el dante ( firm tender).

Meanwhile, slice 6 chicken breasts in length-wise wedges and sauté in olive oil in a large fry pan on medium high heat til browned on both sides.  Add in a 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of water, and 1 TBS of curry powder cover and let simmer until the chicken is cooked through (approx. 20 mins.)

In a large 13×9 baking dish, generously butter the bottom with a 1/4 stick of butter, add in the rice and the broccoli mixture layered on top, next add the chicken wedges (save the juice from the chicken cooking and set aside).

Next, make a rue: 1 stick of butter, 2 TBS of flour…til pasty, then add the chicken juices, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of half and half, and 1 tsp each of pink salt and coarse pepper – whisk til smooth and pour on top of the casserole – sprinkle with 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for a half hour, uncovered.


If you would like to read more about my journey with a son who became addicted and then died of an overdose – you can see some more posts @ my older website –  – titles like : No Addict wants to be an Addict 

OR @ my newer website –  – for titles like: Where was God when my son died of an overdose? 

Life is a battle on some level, for every one of us… you can make such a difference in a someone’s day by offering a food-hug with a warm heart!

Love God; Love People – it’s what it is all about!

Enjoy my friend’s offerings of recipes and stories too !

FRI, Nov 30: Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman
SAT, Dec 2: Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield
MON, Dec 3: International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham
TUES, Dec 4: Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens
WED, Dec 5: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes
THURS, Dec 6: Holiday Sides / Potluck / Buffets – Tracy Ruckman
FRI, Dec 7: Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield
SAT, Dec 8: Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman

Addiction Juxtaposed with a Christian World View

Granville Village School, Granville, MA

November 26, 2018

Before you can set one thing against another, you must define and create the presentation on both sides and that is just what I did for the high school students at Granville Village School.


Is addiction even mentioned in the Bible? Not specifically, but the idea of something taking control over your mind and actions is…

What exactly is addiction? And how does someone become addicted?

A tension exists between the flesh and the spirit; desires for each battle it out in our minds and hearts.  Is addiction just a bad choice, is it a moral failing and anyone who becomes addicted deserves whatever befalls him? Or is addiction a chronic illness that began with a bad choice? How you view addiction will determine how you will respond to, and react to, those around you who are caught in addictions.

Is addiction sin?” was the standing question asked by one student.

And what about Iphones, Monster, Dunkin, & Juling….? Where can it all potentially lead?

Physiological determinants play a role too! When God-given dopamine is messed with, there will be trouble; as well…did Grandpa or Aunt Millie have a drinking problem(?) that can have a ripple effect reaching into many generations.

At the end of the day…what is the responsibility of the Christian and the church at large in regard to the drug epidemic and dealing with people who have a broken -brain via addiction?

These are the topics I spoke about with personal experience. My goal? To educate and bring awareness about the realities of addiction, erase stigma, and to challenge kids to be the feet and hands of Jesus with compassion for those around them who are broken and need help.

Do you have any students that need to hear this message? Contact me anytime.