Celebrating the Simple Life

by Gail Johnson

As a young mom, I planned awesome vacations and field trips for my kids. I wanted them to learn not just from books but by visiting places and experiencing life. However, after several outings, I gave up. It wasn’t about bickering and fighting in the car. My kids never fought. They still don’t. Maybe it’s the four-year age difference.

Neither was it the usual crazy things that can go wrong on field trips or vacations.  No. The reason I quit was my kids, like hobbits, preferred (prefer) to stay in the shire. Because if they left, they had to wear shoes or had to stop playing in the sandbox.

Another reason was riding wore them out. To this day, they will sleep while traveling and most of the next day.

Once, I planned a trip to a state park famous for wildlife. While wandering around the park,  I pointed to an animal crossing the grass in front of us. My son’s reaction? “I can see that at home. Can we go, now?”

It took some time, but I finally understood while I wanted my children to experience the world my way, they were experiencing the world in their own way at home. That year, I embraced the simple life and decided to transform our backyard into a never-ending field trip.

My first project was to create a beach. I had a sandbox (prior the endless grass-planting days) and the sun. All I needed to do was to buy a pool. Soon we were enjoying the laid-back beach life. Best decision ever! It’s still my favorite getaway.

Next, I constructed a zoo by planting grass and tasty plant life. After my yard make-over, rabbits, squirrels, deer, gopher turtles, snakes, and birds of the south, including wild turkeys, moved in to destroy taste my delectable yard. (I hope you’re catching the dry humor here.)

Later, I opened a get-away for family and friends. For Christmas, we bought four-wheelers for the kids and created mazes and trails to ride. Our house was filled with the laughter of all ages throughout the holiday season and for years to come.

Now, in their twenties, the kids love traveling with us. We may have gotten off to a late start, but we’re making up for lost time.

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

Looking back, I can see what I would’ve missed if I hadn’t listened to my kids because God used the backyard as an instrument to reveal His purpose for our lives.

The pool became a place for sharing problems, hopes, prayers, and dreams. The four-wheeler trails became the paths my children walked as they prayed for guidance, and the animals taught us His faithfulness to supply our every need. It is for these blessings that I celebrate this simple life!

Now it’s your turn. How do you pass your summer? Do you go on vacations, or do you prefer to stay at home?

Click to Tweet: “It is for all these blessings that I celebrate this simple #life!” ~ @GailJohnson87 on @InspiredPrompt #family


Hognose 2-1Writing Prompt

Mary was happy with her morning progress. She had weeded the garden and gathered tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.  It was time to call it a day. Reaching for her basket, she froze at the sight of a snake making its way around…

 

My Garment of Praise for Your Spirit of Heaviness by Traci Wooden-Carlisle

Today we’d like to welcome back author Traci Wooden-Carlisle to the Inspired Prompt blog. Traci has just released her new book, My Garment of Praise for Your Spirit of Heaviness and we want to know more…

Glad you could join us again, Traci! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Traci: I was a voracious reader as a child. I averaged eleven books a week during the summer. My favorite trip was to the library and when I got grounded the trips would be suspended. I had a few reserve books but when they were gone I would write stories to myself.

I am a freelance graphic artist and jewelry maker, but my first love is writing.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Traci: I write Christian Women’s fiction with elements of romance and Christian romantic suspense. I am a hopeful romantic, but I love writing with an open ear to God. I try to express and relay through my characters God’s love, forgiveness and perspective in any situation.

Do you work from an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Traci: I go from a general idea to a focused story as I write a story. I love discovering new thoughts and feelings that my characters have. I love writing by the seat of my pants, but on the few occasions that I have had to do an outline I have found it to be rewarding as well.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Traci: The hardest thing for me is staying within certain word parameters. I constantly go over my maximum wordage because I am very detailed with feelings and surroundings. I think the more I write, the better I will be at meeting certain limits while presenting readers with a great story.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Traci: I will still write books, but I believe I will also empower women to regain confidence and control of their lives after dealing with abuse. I’ve addressed certain forms of abuse in my books as well as shared my testimony that inspired my “Promises to Zion” series. I believe it is a great story for television as well.

Thanks for stopping by and telling us about yourself and your book!

Click to tweet:  My Garment of Praise for Your Spirit of Heaviness by Traci Wooden-Carlisle is a family saga worth the read.  #amreading #MustRead

Traci would like to give away a set of 3 silver bookmarks. They will coincide with her Promises to Zion series. Leave a comment to be entered…


My Garment of Praise for Your Spirit of Heaviness

The same secret that united their family could be used to destroy them.

It has been a year since Paige, Mason, Brandon and Victoria’s worlds collided. One near-fatal incident, two weddings, and an earth-shattering revelation later, and the lives of these four former strangers are now inextricably bound.

After a year of upheaval, things are finally falling into place for everyone.  Victoria’s marriage to Richard is on the mend, and a long-kept secret has given her the family she has always longed for. Brandon’s relationship with God has never been stronger, and his marriage to Paige has surpassed his wildest dreams. And, with the support of Brandon and her newfound family members, Paige has stayed grounded throughout a series of life-changing discoveries.

Unfortunately, the family that fought so hard for their happy ending quickly learns they must fight just as hard to keep it.

After losing Paige to Brandon, Mason is determined to move on.  However, as Brandon’s health takes a serious turn for the worse, and Grace stirs up fresh trouble in Paige’s life, he is forced to choose between keeping his promise to Brandon and finding happiness with someone new. Meanwhile, when old acquaintances come forward with life-altering revelations, Victoria is left to grapple with a profound choice—forgive, and deepen her faith, or risk losing her hard-won family to the very secrets that brought them together. 

Link for book: Amazon


Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God.  Mrs. Wooden-Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband.

She is a graphic artist, runs a jewelry and craft business, and teaches an occasion fitness class for fun. She is currently writing a Christmas romantic suspense.

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Geocaching 101: If You Hide It, We Will Hunt!

By Cammi Woodall

I hunt for Tupperware in the woods. How do you spend your weekends?

No, I am not careless or forgetful of where I put my belongings. My family and I are part of a growing group of ‘treasure hunters’ who participate in an exciting hobby called geocaching.

So what is geocaching? Well, it is basically what happens when nerds go outside to play. A person takes a container, hides it somewhere outside such as in the woods or in a city, marks the coordinates with their GPS, and logs that information onto a website. Our favorite is the free site geocaching.com. Indiana Jones wanna-be’s then log those coordinates into their GPS systems and head out to search. When you get to the correct coordinates, put your GPS on Pedestrian Mode and start to hunt! Once you find the cache, you sign a log book provided, and register your find on the website. Caches can be anywhere – city streets, local parks, scenic byways, bridges, cemeteries, even underwater! They can be tucked under rocks, in hollow logs, in magnetic holders on anything metal (like a tank – no joke!), or hanging from a tree branch. Harder caches can even require scuba gear or rappelling equipment.

Geocaching got its start in 2000 in Beaver Creek, Oregon. To test the accuracy of his GPS unit, a man named David Ulmer took a small plastic box and filled it with goodies like books and CD’s. He hid it alongside a popular nature trail and logged the plotted coordinates on his website. He invited readers to try and find his hidden stash to test the accuracy of their own units and his.

Within three days, two people had found it and responded back. They loved it! Slowly the activity caught on and was featured on an online tech magazine, in the New York Post, and on CNN. This media attention drew seekers from around the world. The website geocaching.com was born and the hunt was on!

But there were only 75 known caches in the world. Chances were a caching newbie was not close to one. So if you couldn’t find caches, why not hide one for someone else to find? Thus started the geo version of “Field of Dreams” – if you hide it, they will hunt. So they hid it and we hunted. We are still hunting. From its humble beginnings, geocaching.com has grown to over two million caches sought after by more than five million seekers. Caches have been placed on every continent, even Antarctica (my bucket list geocaching destination)! There is a good chance you are within walking distance of a cache right now, or at least a short drive.

You are in nature so be aware of dangers. So far we haven’t been chased by a large boulder “Temple of Doom” style, but we have encountered several snakes, dogs, ticks, and stinging bugs. My sister was chased by a buffalo once! Well, the buffalo was safely behind a fence a long distance away from her and she was never in any danger, but we still laugh about that. (My parents and I do, my sister not so much.)

Why Tupperware? Because it lives up to its reputation for keeping contents fresh! All caches are not stored in the iconic containers, but it is certainly popular. Caches are susceptible to weather, so you need good containers that will protect the contents. They can range in size from micro (a small metal tube half the size of your pinkie finger) to large (about the size of a five-gallon bucket). There are even a few caches the size of telephone booths.

I’ve had several people ask, “But what do you get?” Many people hear ‘cache’ and thinks ‘cash’. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The treasure you find will be stickers, small toys, beads, pencils… anything that will fit in your cache container. The smallest containers will only have the logbook.

So what do you get? Well, you get the rush of searching for a lost container, the satisfaction of finding the capsule and signing your name with the others who came before you. You get the thrill of discovery as you visit new places. You get a sense of community when you meet fellow cachers also out for that elusive treasure. You get that thrill of competition when you find the cache before the people with you. You get time spent with family and friends.

My hearty recommendation is to try it at least once. Grab some bug spray, pack a picnic, pick some easy caches nearby, and start hunting! I just checked geocaching.com and there are 22 caches within ten miles of me. There were only 18 the last time I checked. Excuse me, but I need to grab my GPS and start looking for some Tupperware! Hope to see you out there!

Click to tweet: Geocaching 101: If You Hide It, We Will Hunt! Article at the Inspired Prompt blog. Have you tried geocaching? #geocache #amwriting

Writing prompt: Darla drew near the large oak that stood in the middle of the park. Had she finally found…

3 Questions Wednesday with Cara Lynn James

Good morning! It is my pleasure to welcome author Cara Lynn James to the Inspired Prompt. Cara writes romance, historical, and Christian fiction books.

Good morning, Cara.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Cara: I’m tenacious, loyal, and optimistic.

Great attributes for a writer.  Next question . . .

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Cara: It’s hard to choose because there are several places I’d love to go to for a research trip. My favorite place is Newport, Rhode Island where three of my historical romances are set. But since I’ve been there many times it would be better to pick a place I’m interested in but not so familiar with. It’s a toss up between Paris and Tuscany. But I’ve been to France and Italy, so I’d pick England (or maybe Ireland) because I’ve never gone to either place. I’ve always wanted to see both countries. Also, and this is important, they speak English. That would make things so much easier for me.

How about a tour of Europe? I’ll pack my bags. Now for your last question.

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

CaraThe theme song would definitely be “Time to Say Goodbye” sung by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. In my lifetime I’ve said goodbye to many, many good friends from my home town and from college. I served as a Naval officer for eight years (a long time ago!) in Texas, California and Virginia. I had many wonderful friends, but after a few years I had to leave or they had to. Some I saw again, but some I didn’t. My husband and I also lived in Vermont for twenty years after he retired from the Navy. Leaving very close friends behind in Vermont was terribly difficult, just as it had been during our Naval careers.

But the song really resonates with me because when we were in the Navy I had to say goodbye to my husband just before he left on four long cruises on aircraft carriers. Those were very lonely days. Three years ago last March, my husband Jim passed away. That was our final farewell on this earth. Although I didn’t want to say goodbye, I knew I had to. I know we’ll meet again but the last goodbye was the hardest.

A touching song for a tribute to your husband and others. Cara, we’re so glad you stopped by to visit. Come back soon…

Click to Tweet: Cara Lynn James talks about her books and writing today on Inspired Prompt @InspiredPrompt #romance #giveaway

Readers, Cara is offering a paperback copy of Love on a Dime to one person who leaves a comment!


 Love On A Dime

In age of elegance and excess, Lilly Westbrook longs for a love both true and eternal.

Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons–dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.

But it’s not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that’s exactly what she does.

No one in Lilly’s social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company…and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.

But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family’s social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.

Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?


Cara Lynn James has written four inspirational historical romances, each with a touch of mystery.  They are Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment, Love by the Book (all in the Ladies of Summerhill series) and A Path toward Love.

She lives in northwest Florida with her daughter, grandson and two grand dogs. Cara is at a tenth generation New Englander, mother of two grown children, three beautiful and talented grandchildren, the widow of a retired Naval officer, and a Navy veteran herself. Born and brought up in Connecticut, she’s lived in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, California, Virginia, Vermont and now Florida. Cara hopes to never move again. She’d rather spend her time writing than moving.