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…

 

Summer Fun: I Scream, You Scream . . .

I was just telling someone the other day that August is almost here. Call me “King of the Obvious.”

For many of you, August is a summer month. For those of us in the field of education, August means back-to-school.

Cue the “waaaah-waaaah” sound effect.

So far I have had a lot of summer fun, and there’s still more to come for a couple of weeks or so. I decided to create a “Summer Fun Top Ten List,” mostly because I couldn’t think of any other way to organize my thoughts (Keepin’ it real!):

1.            No matter what, no matter where, go for the ice cream.

2.            Never pass up a chance to do something fun with loved ones, whether it be enjoying a picnic, playing a game of putt-putt golf, or sharing ice cream.

3.            Always pack extra clothes for summer trips. Ice cream drips and gets messy sometimes.

4.            The summer heat is very hot. This seems to be a bigger issue now that I am older. Cooling off with ice cream helps.

5.            Reading, in the comfort of air conditioning, is a nice summer thing.

6.            Watching a new season of The Great British Baking Show, in the comfort of air conditioning, is also a nice summer thing.

7.            Eating ice cream, while watching a new season of The Great British Baking Show, in the comfort of air conditioning, is a most awesome summer thing.

8.            Long walks in the evening, when the heat isn’t so hot, are wonderful. Even better if they’re on a beach somewhere.

9.            If your job or life situation allows, sleeping in during summer days is refreshing. If only my internal alarm wasn’t so early!

And the final summer fun thing is . . .

Just add fruit to create a nutritious summer meal!

10.          Ice cream is a cool meal alternative when the summer heat makes it too hot to cook. Unless you’re a contestant on The Great British Baking Show, in which you would be burning up anyway in that tent.

NOTE: If you’re not a fan of ice cream (????) or cannot have it, substitute your favorite treat in the items above. Popsicles, slushies, sno cones, smoothies, etc.

 

[Click to Tweet] The “Summer Fun Top Ten List,” from @carltonwhughes via @InspiredPrompt – Warning: this post WILL make you hungry for ice cream, and may also make you giggle.  #summer #fun #icecream

WRITING PROMPT: Imagine you have a free summer day with no responsibilities.  What would you do? Where would you go? What would you eat?

Summer Lessons Learned the Hard Way

by Linda Yezak

Back when my hometown of Bryan, Texas, was a thriving metropolis of thirty thousand or so, back when I was in my early teens, my family would drive all the way to Collins, Georgia, population fiftyish, including pets and cattle, to visit with my dad’s side of the family.

These were the years when I had become aware of the things around me, conscious of life beyond the desire to sleep, eat, and play. So I was aware, for instance, that Bryan had several grocery stores to choose from, and Collins citizens—well, they had to go to a nearby town, smaller than Bryan and not near as pretty, but it was where folks bought their groceries. It was the same town they ran to when they wanted something to do, like sit at the malt shop and watch the only traffic light for miles blink. Hot town Saturday night.

These, among other long-lost reasons, gave me the impression that my cousin—who didn’t even live in town—must’ve been “backward.”

I can look back now and wonder just where on God’s green earth I got the gall to spew some of the silliness that came forth from my freshly-painted lips. I say “freshly painted,” because this was right around the time I began my road to sophistication, and the liberal application of too-dark lipstick and vivid blue eye shadow were mandatory for the journey.

And, by the way, Cousin dear, you’re a year older than me. Aren’t you wearing makeup yet?

She responded that Georgia summers—even as early as when we had visited—were just too hot to bother with makeup unless it was for special occasions.

“Well, in Texas, we have air conditioners. You know what those are, don’t you?”

She glared.

Later, she helped my aunt make tea. Steep tea bags in boiling hot water. Stir in the sugar till it dissolves. Pour over ice in beveled, quilt-pattern glasses. Very similar to the jelly glasses we had back home.

I rattled the ice in mine and with an air of magnanimity, chose not to mention that our glasses like these came with strawberry preserves. I tried the tea. It tasted different, which could be for only one reason: “We don’t use sugar. We use saccharin. You know what that is, don’t you?”

This time, my aunt glared with her.

After supper, my cousin grabbed the broom and swept out the kitchen and dining room. I took pity on her then. Bless her heart. All that hard labor. “We have a vacuum cleaner to do that. You know what that is, don’t you?”

Surprisingly, there must’ve been enough times tossed in with all this foolishness when I wasn’t being a complete jerk. My cousin invited me to join her on a walk.

We strolled the red clay roads in the steamy late afternoon, planted fields to our right, cattle and the hog pens to our left, and chatted about what teenage girls chat about. We probably even thrust out our budding chests and bragged on bra sizes, and who got whose first. (It burned me how much longer she’d been wearing hers!)

Before long, I saw a tree with a limb full of fruit hanging over a fence and just within reach. I jogged up to the tree to get a closer look at the fruit. “Well, would you look at that! Can you eat these?”

Unripe persimmon on tree in the season & fresh green leaves.

“Sure,” she said. “They’re best green.”

I took a bite—and puckered my painted lips so tight I could see them without a downward glance.

“It’s a persimmon tree, ” she said. “You know what that is, don’t you?”

Click to Tweet: Summer Lessons Learned the Hard Way via @InspiredPrompt – a short stop on a blog tour for @LindaYezak & Ride to the Altar, Circle Bar Ranch, Book 3 #summerfun #giveaway #NewRelease


Linda W. Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses, and since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she tries to include horses in each of her novels. Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers.

Ride to the Altar – Book 3, Circle Bar Ranch Series

Cattle are dying on the ranch–and not of natural causes. The financial loss to the Circle Bar has first-year owner Patricia Talbert questioning her every move. But to add to her stress, her father demands she return to New York and make amends with her mother. The depth of her resentment runs deeper than she knew, and the confrontation only widens the mother-daughter gap.

While she’s away, Talon Carlson discovers the reason behind the attack on the ranch, and it sends him on an emotional tailspin. How can he remain true to Patricia when his first love still plagues his mind from the grave?

As the gap grows wide and the attacks increase, both Patricia and Talon are stretched to the limit.

How many hurdles must they jump in their Ride to the Altar?


Readers! Linda is offering a giveaway package during her blog tour. When the two-week tour is over, all those who commented throughout the tour will be eligible for the drawing for the prize. This prize package includes a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube.

So, leave us a comment, ask Linda a question, or share your own persimmon tale, and you’ll gain an entry to the contest.

Next up on Ride to the Altar’s blog tour:

Cindy Huff’s: https://jubileewriter.wordpress.com/

Can Blogging and Fun Go Together?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Blogging enjoyable? I see y’all shaking your head right now. No way, no how. I’m part of several online and in-person writing groups and when blogging is mentioned, eyes roll and people shiver.

“I can’t think of enough to write about.”

“I forget when I get busy.”

“I don’t think it makes a difference.”

“No one reads my blog except my mom and Aunt Suzie.”

After several years of mindless and inconsistent journaling, I stopped. I dreaded blogging and what I wrote was rambling at best and confusing at times. It was time to go to God. After all, He created the people who invented blogging so maybe He could help me out.

I quit blogging and told Him about all my shortcomings, failures, and irregularities in my blogging world. Then I listened. It took some time but what finally came to mind was this: my blogging pointed to me. All about me. Me. Me. Me.

Oh.

He whispered in my soul about how others had helped me get my start in the craft, especially writers. I went to two of my critique group friends, Betty Thomason Owens and Christina Rich and laid out my heart. I wanted to give back to writers. How could I do this and would they like to be a part? They graciously agreed. Christina did the tech work, Betty edited, and I thought up ideas. 🙂

We brainstormed and decided on a blog that would spark the imagination through writing prompts. We would blog on various subjects—flowers, animals, sports, the Olympics—A plethora of topics with a writing prompt that might help someone who needed a little help. Our first post introducing our blog, Writing Prompts, Thoughts, & Ideas: Oh My! went live on April 28th, 2012.

Cue the crickets. We had a tiny following. We had contests for writing stories using our prompts and grew a tad. I went back to God. What were we doing wrong?

Nothing in the fundamentals.  But we could help writers even more by promoting them. Their books. Or blogs. And we wouldn’t worry whether theirs was a self-published book they wrote for their family or a best-seller. Our only stipulation: fairly clean reads.

Everyone did reviews and interviews so we came up with 3 Questions Wednesday. 3 simple questions and we’d promote the writer and whatever they wanted to promote. Our first guest was Jordyn Redwood. From there, the blog grew stronger. We had all types of guests from all writing levels and walks of life.

I started really having fun. I enjoyed meeting all the new people. We started adding bloggers and I met more neat writers. Books I never heard of before became part of my library. Writers and even publishers were coming to me, asking to be a guest on our blog.

We added Saturday interviews. We grew and by 2017, five years from the start, we were garnering shares, comments, and attention. Our blog morphed once more by honing in our focus on specific writers: Indie published and new to the writing world.

Now, please understand blogging is still hard work. At times, I wrestle with tech issues and want to throw my desktop in the yard. I grow tired and don’t always want to write my posts. I forget to do things on occasions.

But I’m having fun. I believe we’re making a difference.

My advice? Follow the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Take your eyes off yourself and be a blessing to others. Invite others to come along for the ride. You’ll make new friends. You could start to smile when you blog.

You might even have fun.

Click to tweet: Can Blogging and Fun Go Together? One blogger’s thoughts. #blogging #amwriting

Kids and Summer

Ty as shark

Kids, pools, and shark fins! Summer doesn’t get much better than that.

This is my youngest son about fifteen years ago. He is grown now and sports a beard, but I will always remember him like this and treasure this picture.

Here at Inspired Prompts we are breaking from our usual more serious writing related topics to share some personal pictures and information with our readers so I will tell you a little about my family.

I have been married for over thirty-nine years. My husband and I have four children. We had three, waited a long time, and then had the fourth. Our children currently range in age from 36-21. And now we have two grandchildren. Oh, what joy grandchildren bring! I know all grandparent think their grandchildren are special but ours truly are—in one way, anyway. Our first grandchild is bi-racial and our second is Marshallese.

K G Hilton Head

Here is a picture of my first grandchild with his mother, my daughter, on a family vacation. (He is her biological son.)

Robert Ellie

And here’s a picture of one of my sons and my second grandchild, his daughter, whom he and his wife adopted from the Marshall Islands. They traveled to Hawaii to get her.

My other two sons—the oldest and the youngest—do not have children so from them, I am still a grandmother-in-waiting, or rather a Lala-in-waiting, since my grandchildren call me Lala.

Yep, they call me Lala, and you can call me a happy grandmother, who can’t wait to play with her grandchildren again!

Click to Tweet: Join us for some Summer Fun via @InspiredPrompt as we share our favorite summer fun photos and stories. #summer #travel #adventure

Writing Prompt: Caption this photo!