Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Time Under Heaven


by Laurinda Wallace

Time seems to be against missionary Ruthanne Carroll. Suddenly faced with a life threatening illness, she reluctantly returns to the U.S. from a small Maasai village in Kenya. Once she reunites with her sisters Elizabeth and Melody, she clearly sees God’s hand leading her to uncover a guilty secret from her past. A journey to uncover the truth leads them through sometimes dangerous circumstances and battles with old hurts. Each find their faith and relationships challenged as they reach a crossroads where the choices are healing and reconcilation or bitterness and defeat. 

A native of the snowbelt in Western New York, Laurinda Wallace is a graduate of Houghton College, NY and has been an administrator and legal assistant for most of her career. She now makes her home in the beautiful high desert of southeastern Arizona with her husband, David. They have two grown daughters and twin grandsons who are the delight of their lives. Laurinda, a lifelong writer pursued her passion for writing professionally once again in 2005. She has been published in several magazines, including The Upper Room and Mature Living. She contributes to several websites, including Christian Devotions. A devotional for gardeners is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012 and a mystery series set in Western New York is on track for publication in 2013. She is active in the women’s ministry at her church and teaches a women's Bible study. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking in the mountains or digging in the dirt in her flower gardens. Visit Laurinda’s blog, SimplyLife at www.laurindaw.blogspot or her website at

I went blindly into reading this book not really knowing what to expect.  I was definitely NOT disappointed! This book incorporates many of my favourite features of a great read.  It had characters that were likeable right from the moment you met them as well as characters that were less than likeable.  The thing I like best about this book was the flow of the story.  Initially it was like reading 3 separate stories (one for each of the Carroll sisters) and then once you get to know each character you get to see how their stories merge together to form one shared story.

I was pleasantly surprised by plot turns and twists throughout the entirety of the book with a great ending as well.  I felt as though the characters were people that I actually knew and I felt every emotion that they felt.  I was drawn into the story and held captive in it (in a good way).

The reality and depth of the situations the characters face was believable and that helps to keep the reader engaged.  I felt like I was watching a movie in my mind while reading this book and that's worth its weight in gold to me!

Also, I think it's important to note that this was not like most Christian fiction I've read before.  This book wasn't all Happy Go Lucky and religious.  The religious portions in the book fit beautifully with the character of Ruthanne as well as with situations that arise within the book without being too "preachy".  That is an important balance to keep in mind when looking at reading Christian fiction.  Sometimes books can feel like they are shoving religion down your throat, but that's not so with Laurinda's book.  I think that the scriptural quotes only add to the beauty of the story.

Thank you Laurinda Wallace for writing such a heartfelt, dramatic, and simply beautiful book!  I look forward to reading more of Laurinda's works and I encourage you to pick yourself up a copy of The Time Under Heaven.

DISCLAIMER: This review was made possible because I received a copy of The Time Under Heaven from Laurinda Wallace.  I was not monetarily compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rediscovering Summer, Self, and Family


Recently I was informed that I had won The "Love Does" giveaway sponsored by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Part of the prize that I had won was a $250 gift certificate towards an Adventure Excursion as well as a copy of Bob Goff's "Love Does" book.  Wow...what a prize right?!  Well...that's what I was thinking too until I realized how difficult it is to pick an excursion in that price range that I could get to without a vehicle.  I also really wanted to do something that would incorporate my entire family.

After scouring several different excursion websites in the Ottawa area I was becoming more and more discouraged.  Then I had a brilliant idea, but would the sponsor go for it?  I had come up with the idea to use the $$ towards the purchase of a GPS unit so that my family and I could go Geocaching together.  This was a very great compromise as Geocaching could be done with the whole family, done anywhere in the city where transit could go, and this would be a prize that would make excursions a more normal occurrence instead of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

This is where I got nervous...What if the sponsor won't go for it?  What will I do then?  Ok Trish...just suck it up and send them an email.  Can't hurt, right?  Right indeed!  After many emails back and forth with the wonderful Julie, I was given the approval to get our new GPS unit as well as filling out the additional $250 amount with a Gift Card for McDonald's to treat the kids out after much hard work.  After some research, we decided on the Magellan eXplorist 310 so I sent my request off to Julie and the purchase was made.  I couldn't wait for my package to arrive!


Whoa, Whoa, Whoa...You may be saying to yourself, "Oh Yay. Good for her, but what the heck is Geocaching?"  Well, my friends, be ready to have your minds blown!

Did you know that there is a secret world of hidden "treasure" all around you?  No? Well...there is, trust me. This is where Geocaching comes in. defines geocaching as "a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location." is a great resource for all things geocaching.  You can find everything you need to get started caching and the basic membership is free!  You can search near you and find caches within walking distance or make a day of it and drive (or bus) further away and find a few caches at once.  

The rules for caching are simple:
1. If you take a "treasure" from the cache you must replace it with something of equal or greater value
Hidden Treasures
2. Don't get spotted by Muggles (non caching folks) for the cache's safety may then be compromised
3. Sign the log book in the cache
4. Record your find on that's out of the way.  Let me tell you why I love geocaching so much.  There are many reasons, but the ones that stand out the most to me are as follows:

1. I get to use my brain again!  I like having to think about things that aren't directly related to the kids, housework, or what the heck I'm going to make for supper.
2. Exercise.  I get to get outside into nature, enjoy the summer, and I'm getting a workout to boot!
3. Family oriented.  Geocaching isn't always a family adventure, but if you look up the right types of caches you can make it family friendly.

Now let me tell you a bit about my last several days of Caching.


We started out our caching excursion at a cache near a play ground.  Dual purpose caches are always helpful!  We arrived at the park and decided to let the kids play for a while first before setting out on the hunt.  It warms my heart to see my Hubby playing with the kids.

How Many Kids do I have again?
This cache was hidden in a little wooded area just behind the play ground, and I must say that this was a very clever hide.  Many caches, when you look them up on the site, have hints that would help you figure out where the cache may be hiding.  This one's particular clue was "It's a stick up".  You'll soon understand the clue with the photos below. 

We played a bit more at the play ground and then headed for home.  At this cache we also learned that a Diaper Bag for your diaper wearing toddler is an essential geocaching tool LOL.

The Tree with the Hidden Cache - Can you see it?
It's a Stick Up!

Look Mom...We Found It!


I like to call this find the "Oops, maybe we should've looked at this cache's location a little closer before hauling our 2.5 & 4 yr. old out for a mile long hike" cache.  This cache was nice because it was close to our house so we set out with water bottles (and diaper bag) on hand.  I only had to send my hubby back for the camera this time.  I knew there was a reason that I make lists LOL.  

This cache's name is Miss Muffet and it's certainly an interesting cache.  I just remembered some more things that I like about geocaching, and the main 3 are as follows:
1. Creative ways to hide caches making them challenging
2. Interesting containers that people use for caches
3. Hidden treasures you find within feet of where you've lived for years

#2 & #3 were especially true with this cache!  #2 so much so that I made my husband get and hold the cache cause I just couldn't do it!  #3 because well, the photos below will speak for #3 better than I ever could.

Notice Whose hand is NOT holding this cache!
Even the Kids were Leary LOL

A Hidden Treasure along the Way
I must insert that this was my least favorite of the caches, but not because of any fault of the cache itself.  We are still trying to get used to the GPS and my fried mommy brain was just not getting how to read the compass feature on our GPS so I was getting highly frustrated and was beyond ready to give up (which can happen frequently for new cachers).  We took the long way in on this cache and were traipsing through grass taller than my 4 yr. old!  There were several points where we had to carry my 2.5 yr. old for fear we would lose him in the brush! LOL. 

Also, this area was like mosquito haven. (Note to self: Mosquitos can bite your face so be sure to put spray there too!).  I had forgotten how awful the sound of a mosquito buzzing in your ear can be.  Also, thought I'd lost my Contigo water bottle on the trek (More Notes to Self - Don't bring a GREEN water bottle on an excursion into the WOODS and check the inside of the backpack BEFORE trekking back into the woods to try and find said water bottle).  

This cache, however, was probably one of the most enlightening ones too.  I learned a good many things including (but not limited to):

1. It's scary feeling like you're lost in the woods
2. Spider webs make any area feel more creepy
3. Watch for branches being caught on the back pack of the person in front of you BEFORE they smack you in the face (ouch).
4. If you don't know how to communicate properly with your spouse before geocaching you'll either learn how to really quickly while geocaching or your shouting matches will compromise the both your position and potentially the location of the cache (if you can ever find it LOL).
Super Tall Grass
Jake Being Carried Again :)


After an overly stimulating Day 2 we decided to reward ourselves with a couple of quick and easy caches.  These were more urban and FAR less woodsy LOL.  We needed to give our little troopers a special treat so we picked 2 caches that were close by the local McDonald's so that we could stop to play and eat in between looking for caches.  The first cache was super easy to find, but only because I had seen a special about the type of cache before and was informed about how this cache may be hidden.  Probably would've gone bonkers looking for this cache otherwise.  Found it within 5 minutes!  Can you see where the cache may have been hidden in the following picture?

After finding this cache we made our way to the McDonald's and had ourselves a lovely OUTDOOR meal.  It was so nice to spend this time with my family.  We never eat outside when we have McDonald's so it was certainly a welcome change.  Of course, we still had to go inside for the kids to run off some energy at the Play Place.  

Enjoying our dinner by the nice Fountain

A Happy Meal Indeed! 
Really Mom?  Another Picture?

We Looked and Looked, but No Luck
After McDonald's, we went to the other end of the plaza to find another cache.  This one, however, eluded us.  We spent a good 20-30 min. searching, but no luck!  While it is a frustrating part of geocaching to not find a cache, it's also a nice challenge.  We will go back to find it as we are determined!

We are debating hitting up another cache tonight, but I'm thinking that a day of rest may be in order.  Sometimes, if you do too much at once, you can get geocaching burn out!

I look forward to many great memories made together with my family in the years to come!  If you'd like to learn more about geocaching then please check out GEOCACHING.COM!  There is SO much information there!

A Dad and His Explorers

Many Thanks to Graf-Martin and Thomas Nelson Publishing for going out on a limb to make this opportunity available to us!  

DISCLAIMER: I received my GPS unit as part of a giveaway prize that I had won.  All opinions are my own.