Fun in Ohio

We’ve been home for three weeks already, but I’m having trouble finding time to work on my blog. I’ve had a lot of paperwork to do, for one thing and another, and spent a couple of days in hospital last week with a miscarriage. Now that the paperwork and figuring is nearly done, maybe I can catch up the blog!

Grandpa and Grandma had a wading pool for the little ones. Mr. Imagination and Little Miss played in it a lot on hot days—of which there were quite a few while we were there!

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This was a very enjoyable evening at my brother-in-law’s house. There were four large families together, with a total of around 50 people!

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Little Miss seemed to love this cousin the most of the three big girls in this family. I wondered if that was because she gave her rides on the horses?

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One of our young nephews borrowed my camera one afternoon while we were there. I deleted most of his pictures, but liked this one of their kitten.

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My husband’s sister organized a canoe/kayak trip down a local creek (we would have called it a river in Michigan!). It went much more smoothly than the one in Michigan! No one was in danger this time. Little Miss and I stayed home to take naps, but everyone else went. I went along to help pick them up at the end, and Mr. Inventor gave Little Miss a quick ride in the kayak.

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A lot of the canoeists weren’t really ready to be done at the end; it was a hot day and the water felt good! This was the aunt who organized the trip, heading downstream with a bunch of little boys after her.IMG_2931

One afternoon I woke up from a nap to find that a storm had just blown in. I went downstairs and looked out the kitchen window just in time to see this branch fall, just outside the house! The wind was blowing a gale (we heard estimates of 80 miles per hour). I decided to postpone the trip to town to get online at the library!

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I remembered that the van was parked under a tree, so I ran outside to move it out of harm’s way. While doing that, I saw this branch down in the front yard, and the tree across the road half down. After the storm was over, I heard what happened to my boys. Gayle and the boys were around the corner, helping build a fence for my sister-in-law. Mr. Inventor was standing under a tree to close a gate after his cousin drove through when the storm began. His aunt called him to come over to the garage. He did. His cousin drove through the gate, and two-thirds of the tree fell down—right where Mr. Inventor had been standing a minute before! We were very thankful to still have him.

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Mr. Inventor and Mr. Sweetie were so happy to catch some wild kittens one morning! They played with them for a few minutes, but never caught them again.

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The Ark Encounter

While we were in Ohio, we wanted to go to Kentucky to visit Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter. This is a life-size model of Noah’s Ark, with an incredible museum inside showing how Noah and his family could have cared for all the animals and provided for themselves. There are many other amazing exhibits, as well; my favorite was one displaying various Bibles through the centuries. The ones from before the invention of the printing press were especially amazing to me. I was fascinated to see the hand-copied manuscripts. They were so neatly done they looked just as if they had been printed by machine!

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Bird cages and food storage.

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Mr. Imagination admiring the bow end of the boat.

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There were displays of various animals, each cage representing a different “kind” from which many of today’s animals could have descended. Fascinating!

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Noah and his family praying as the Flood began.

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The kitchen area. Little Miss stood and stared at this scene for a long time. I believe she thought the person was real and would move! There was a sound recording of someone chopping food, although the mannequin didn’t move.

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Ham and his wife in their private quarters.

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Something I had never thought of before: They have tiny gardens under the skylight for fresh food! Sure makes sense to me.

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One exhibit that really intrigued me was the room that showed Bibles from the past thousand years. These are hand-copied; this first one is a Latin Bible from somewhere around 1200-1300 if I remember correctly, and the second one is from Ethiopia in the 1700-1800s. I couldn’t believe the perfection of the hand-copied Bibles from the Middle Ages! I never dreamed they could be so neat, looking just like a printed book.

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Little Miss and her cousin, tired at the end of the day but having fun together.

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Book Review—Wounded in the Church

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About the Book

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Book title: Wounded in the Church
Authors: Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward
Release date: March 14, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction

My Thoughts: I rarely read books like Wounded in the Church. Theology just doesn’t appeal to me. When the Celebrate Lit team was asking for more people to sign up for this book, though, and I saw that we would still be in America when they sent out paper copies of the book, I decided to sign up and see what this book was like.

The authors have a lot of good points. They show how people in the church can be just like anyone else. Christians should be loving and caring, right, no matter what kind of people cross their paths? Well, unfortunately, quite often Christians act in unloving ways, ending up wounding people even within the church. The authors showed quite effectively how this happens. I felt disappointed, though, that no real solutions were presented. I kept looking for advice for how to cope when you have been “wounded”, but either I overlooked it, or it wasn’t there as clearly as I had thought it would be. On the other hand, there was a chapter of common cliches Christians use, which I found quite thought-provoking. We need to be very careful what we say and how we say it. On the whole, I didn’t find this book overly helpful, although there were several points that really stood out, which I believe will be useful for the rest of my life.

The Authors’ Synopsis:

Church should be a safe place, right? Then why do so many get hurt there?

Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward combine their years of ministry experience to address head-on the elephant in the room: church members and church leaders hurt Christians. All the time. And the long-lasting effects—rejection, shame, despair, loneliness, fear—can be devastating. The authors have witnessed the rise of the “dones,” those who are just done with God thanks to scars from church.

With first-person stories of hurt and loss, this book is a wake-up call for any who deny woundedness in the church but is also a redemptive message for any who hurt from church wounds. Leaders and laypeople alike will learn how to grieve over abuse, to leave unhealthy attitudes and patterns that cause pain, and to trust in God’s real, delivering work through churches that build up, not tear down.

Thanks to the grace of God, there is always hope beyond the pain.

About the Authors:

Ray Beeson is the director of Overcomers Ministries, a teaching ministry with a special emphasis on spiritual warfare and prayer. Ray teaches seminars on spiritual warfare, prayer, and Christlike living and is the author of numerous books including Signed in His Blood (Charisma House, 2014) and The Hidden Price of Greatness (Overcomers, 2000). Ray and his wife, Linda, live in Ventura, CA.

Chris Hayward has had over thirty-six years of pastoral ministry and is currently serving as president of Cleansing Stream Ministries, a discipleship ministry that works with the local church around the world. He is also the author of God’s Cleansing Stream (Chosen Books, 2004) and The End of Rejection(Chosen Books, 2007). Chris and his wife, Karen, live in Castaic, CA.

Guest Post from Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward:

When we tell people we’ve written a book entitled “Wounded in the Church,” many nod knowingly. Sadly, the pain and heartache that happens in churches is all too common. Collectively, the two of us have spent more than 70 years in ministry. During that time we have seen neglect, tactlessness, and blatant insensitivity fostered by some leaders and congregations resulting in the wounding of others. We realize it is not prolific in every church, but the wounding is significant and it needs to be exposed. That is why we wrote this book – we share real stories of real people who were wounded in church, a place that should be a shelter of God’s love and peace. Sometimes people are abused by leaders or church members. There are also times when leaders are abused by people within the congregation. As you read, perhaps you’ll identify with some of the situations described. If so, be assured you are not alone. If you have been wounded, it is our hope and prayer God uses this book to facilitate healing. Because of Jesus Christ, there is hope beyond the pain.

Click here to purchase your copy.

To visit more of the blog stops on this tour, go here.

To enter a fun giveaway, go here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Butterflies

As I mentioned in the post about going to Gales Pond while we were in Michigan, we took several Monarch butterfly chrysalises along with us to Ohio. I wondered if the butterflies would survive all the bumping and banging they endured en route, so when, a few days after we arrived in Ohio, we saw that several had turned black, we were thrilled. They were within a day or so of hatching, we knew.

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We hung the twigs on which I had tied the chrysalises from a window between the kitchen and dining room in Gayle’s parent’s house, and we kept a very close eye on them. The first three hatched without our noticing; we saw each of them within a few minutes, but missed the actual emergence. The last two, though, we were privileged to see come out of their shell. That was quite the experience! The video we got of it is a bit blurry at times, because the camera had a hard time focusing that closeup, but it’ll give you an idea of what happens.

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Book Review—Manuscript for Murder

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About the Book

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Book title: Manuscript for Murder
Author: Chautona Havig
Release date: October 13, 2012
Genre: Mystery

My Thoughts: I first read Manuscript for Murder about a year ago. I don’t normally read murder mysteries, but because Chautona Havig wrote this book, I decided I would read it. I was not disappointed—this is another good book by a good author. Yes, there are murders, but the book doesn’t focus on them. Instead, the main focus is the relationships between Alexa and the other characters. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her learning to know Joe, the cop and Lorie, the sick girl in Chicago. Some of the conversations were quite thought-provoking, like the one about why Alexa dressed the way she did (“I wear what I like when I like, and I don’t worry about what anyone else likes or wears.”) The conversation about why she, as a Christian, would write murder mysteries, was quite good, too. If you enjoy Christian fiction that makes you think, give the Hartfield Mysteries a try. If you want to know more about the book, my longer review is here.

The Author’s Synopsis:

Alexa Hartfield. Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate.

Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely.

Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?

About the Author:

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children.  Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest post from Chautona Havig:

How Arrows & My Obsession with Vintage Clothes Inspired Murder

A swath of fabric cut across my bedroom at an odd angle but that angle ensured that I could stretch it all out. With painstaking precision, I pinned every last piece to the fabric, disgusted at the enormous waste stretching out before me.

The pattern called for three and a half yards. I’d crammed it into two at most.

Just as I picked up the scissors for the first cut, Mom popped her head in the door to see how I was doing. I pointed out the waste. “Grandma said patterns always told you to buy way too much, but I’ve got enough to make another dress!”

Mom stepped closer. I want to say a cigarette hung from her lips, but let’s face it. No way would Mom ever allow the ashes to drop on the carpet. But it felt like one was there, nonetheless. Mom pointed. “Chautona, I don’t know anything about sewing, but I think those arrows are there for a reason.”

And with that, she turned away.

I stared down at the pattern. My arrows zig-zagged all over the place. A glance at the directions showed all arrows going exactly the same direction. Straight up and down the fabric.

You know, if I’d been doing this for the first time in 2017, I could have just zipped on over to “the Google,” as Mom calls it, and looked up why. Instead, I grabbed a thick sewing manual I’d bought for a buck at Pick-N-Save and flipped through it until I found a section on laying out patterns.

A couple of minutes later, I flew down the stairs. “The book says that the long, smooth edges are called selvages. The arrows are supposed to run parallel or the dress might hang wonky.”

Here, I can guarantee Mom took a puff of that cigarette. Man, I hated those things. “Well, like I said. I don’t know anything about sewing, but they looked important.” She blew a puff of smoke.

That’s when I suspected that Mom knew more about sewing than she’d let on.

What does this little sewing lesson have to do with mysteries and murder?

Well, see. This was a test dress. I’d only decided to learn to sew because I’d also decided that I wanted Nancy Drew’s wardrobe. In 1982, you couldn’t buy trim, neat clothing from the 50’s. I had Gunne Sax skirts and preppy tops with ruffles that my parents hated. When they found out I wanted a sewing machine to make clothes like that, they got me one.

Yep. I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew and didn’t stop there. I read all the youth mysteries—Bobsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Meg Duncan (she was a fave, too), and when I got a little older, Phyllis Whitney.

I loved the challenge of seeing events play out—and figuring out why. Why told me who. You get to where you can figure out things rather easily. But if you make me doubt my ideas, that’s good enough. I love that.

Is it any wonder that one of the first books I conceived was a mystery? I’d never put the ideas together until I began working on this post, but really… is it any wonder that I gave that author a love of vintage fashion? Too funny. But those arrows on that pattern? They taught me pretty cool lessons as a kid. Like Mom said:

“Those arrows are there for a reason.”

Isn’t that what God’s directional arrows in His Word are like? They’re there for a reason. They keep us from getting all wonky. It’s why Alexa writes the kind of books she does. I never could, but as she says when she describes telling someone why she writes horror/suspense,

“I tried to describe a world where we never see justice—where sin surrounds us, but the only response we see is a sweet romance or a heartwarming tale of doing good to our neighbors… And God is a God of more than love and mercy. [He’s also a God of] justice.”

Alexa writes what she does to help people sort out those crossed arrows and see that there is a point to it all—that eventually justice and mercy converge paths into one rather than criss-crossing all over the place, trampling each other. She doesn’t write Christian fiction, but I don’t know how a Christian can write fiction without some part of faith shining through. In Alexa’s, and I hope in mine as well, there’s an overarching theme that illustrates that the Lord hasn’t forgotten the people He created.

Click here to purchase your copy.

To visit more of the blog stops on this tour, go here.

To enter a fun giveaway, go here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Deeds Carillon Park

Gayle wanted to take our children to a historical park he remembered touring many years ago. We calculated that we were last there 20 years ago, nearly to the day—just after we were engaged! The place has changed a lot since then; they’ve built a huge new entrance building and added a lot of other buildings and exhibits. We spent several hours walking around it and learning about the history of Dayton, Ohio. Little Miss’s favorite thing was the dog stranded on the roof of a house in the building which told the story of the great flood of Dayton in 1913. She thought the dog was real, and wanted to watch it dry off; it looked like it was dripping wet. Mr. Inventor enjoyed the grist mill. I didn’t end up taking any pictures of the exhibits—pictures like that bore me, and I didn’t want to clutter my computer with them!

The name of this road has always amused me. What is a chicken bristle, anyway? We couldn’t figure that one out.

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This bell tower is where the park got its name. The owner of the National Cash Register company built it for his wife.

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The joys of being a mom—you get asked to pull things out of people’s eyes. DSCF3105

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Mr. Imagination

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Mr. Sweetie at the Shaker house.

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My girls!

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Before we got halfway through the village, Little Miss was getting very tired, so when she saw this chair in a pioneer house she made herself at home.

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A robin up in a tree at the park.

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Holmes County

After our time in Michigan, we drove to Holmes County, Ohio, to visit some old friends there. We spent two nights with them, and they took us touring and shopping the last day, before we headed to western Ohio to be with Gayle’s family.

We saw a few wheat fields with shocks of wheat.

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Big houses and barns are pretty much the norm in this area.

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Horses are everywhere, too; Holmes County is the largest Amish settlement in the world.

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Sunday evening, the men took the older children to church while we ladies stayed home with our two little ones. They had great fun playing with lawn chairs while we chatted.

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They also loved catching fireflies—another first for our New Zealand children!

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In the morning, we went to this museum, where are displayed 83 intricately carved boat models—made from elephant tusk ivory and ebony wood. They tell the story of sailing boats from the earliest Egyptian boats to ones built so recently that they are still in use.

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More Holmes County scenery.

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Here, two men were cutting wheat with an old reaper.

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After lunch, we were going back to our friend’s house, and passed an Amish schoolhouse where a few men were working on the building. Our friends stopped to ask if one of the men would give our children a buggy ride, and he seemed happy to oblige.

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Relaxing before taking off again!

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Out and About in Michigan

During our three weeks in Michigan, we went visiting a number of times. Several times, I took the boys to my brother’s house to play in his lovely pond. They went round and round with the paddleboat, and the three oldest swam from end to end over and over. I hadn’t realized what strong swimmers they’ve become! They had so much fun in that pond.

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We went to church one Sunday at the meetinghouse where I grew up. It still looks pretty much the same!

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We enjoyed seeing the deer beside the road, although we were a bit nervous when they were too close to the edge. This doe and fawn and two turkeys were in a clearing near Reed City, where we went to visit some friends. We actually turned around and went back to get this picture, and they had moved a bit by the time we got back to them.

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Daises were in bloom everywhere—one of my favorite wildflowers.

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The boys enjoyed playing at a park and along a river with their friends near Reed City.

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That evening my children were introduced to volleyball for the first time.

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Another day we went to visit some old friends who build log homes. Gayle and the children toured the log yard and saw how the houses are built.

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This oriole and bluebird were right outside my brother’s window.

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I’ve seen sandhill cranes a number of times, but never babies!

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Deer are abundant in Michigan!

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This is what you really don’t want to see—at least it was far enough ahead of us that we were safe this time.

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We drove past our old farm a few times, and Gayle stopped in one day to talk to the people who bought it from us.

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Product Review—Trust Fund

Our most recent review was the new movie Trust Fund, by Mapelle Films. The story sounded very good, and the trailer we watched was intriguing, so I signed up. We were also given a book that goes with the movie, Love Was Near. I asked Esther to write the review of the movie, since she is good at that, so I read the book. We watched the movie while we were at Mom’s house. At first, we weren’t sure about letting the boys watch it, since we had seen the trailer and there was a swimming scene in it, but it turned out not to be a problem. Everyone who was home that day (two boys were helping their aunt at work) ended up watching it.

Trust Fund MovieHere is Esther’s review of the movie:
In some ways, I really enjoyed Trust Fund. The acting and videography were superb; I always felt like I was right there, listening in on the conversations or viewing the scenery. Overall, this is a gorgeous movie from that perspective. However, there were some things that I didn’t appreciate so much about the film—but I’ll get to those later.

Reese Donahue, aspiring author, does not agree with her father that she needs a job. What she’d like is to finish her book, become the next New York Times bestseller, then head back to Italy to be with her boyfriend. However, life seems to be conspiring against her, and when her agent refuses to give her another advance on her not-yet-completed book and her father refuses to give her money unless she gets a job, she feels stuck. Then she discovers that her dad has been hiding something from her and her sister since their mother’s death. She is suddenly faced with a decision—one that she, and only she, can make. Either go against the morals of right and wrong that she has been taught from little up in order to achieve her dreams—and in the process, destroy her relationship with her father and sister—or trust her father’s judgment and end up living and working in a situation that is what she would consider less than desirable. Are the costs worth the possible outcome? And when things turn out completely different than she had imagined, is there any way out for her? This movie can be intense at times as you wonder what she’s going to decide to do next. There were also a few funny bits that we all enjoyed. Like I said before, however, although I enjoyed some elements of the movie, there were other parts that I didn’t like as much.

While this movie doesn’t claim to be Christian, it bothered me that they used a Christian theme but didn’t really come across as Christian. The characters never said the name of God, or mentioned the Bible, so in the end there’s just a Christian theme used for this—the story of the prodigal son, but in this case, it’s the daughter. That was done very well, in my opinion, although fairly early on our family did figure out what storyline this movie was following, so it ended up slightly more predictable than some movies I’ve seen. My only problem with this was that the moral of the prodigal story was used, without attributing a real reason to it. Talking about this with my family, I mentioned that it reminded me of another movie we’ve seen—Time Changer. That story starts out with the main character, a professor, telling a boy that it’s wrong to steal—but he neglected to say who said it was wrong to steal. In a different context, that happening came up, and one of the other characters calls the professor out on it. Over the course of the movie, he ends up showing him that if the person who gave the law is not attributed (in this case, God), then after some time even the moral truth will be lost—because without the fear of the Lord as the moral lawgiver, there is no meaning to the moral law. All that to say—I felt like this movie was a little like that. Having the moral law, without a mention of the giver. In the end, it felt like it fell flat—as if even though everything turned out okay, there wasn’t any real meaning behind why the people did what they did. It could easily be that I just missed the main part of the movie—I hope so! As I said before, I did enjoy parts of it, although I could have done without some of the romance in there (I don’t agree with couples touching before marriage, and there were about five different kisses, if I counted correctly). In all, you might enjoy this movie; it could be that it’s just not my style. Love Was Near Book

Love was Near is the book Reese, the main character, wrote in the movie. In each of the 28 chapters of the book, she tells a little more of her story, then shares a diary entry. Then, there are a couple of questions for the reader, and lines on which to write journal your thoughts and feelings about the subject discussed in the chapter. Basically, then, this is a study guide for the movie. It really does add to the movie; in Trust Fund, there is no mention of God or the Bible. We were quite disappointed about that, but Love Was Near helps a little to redeem it in my opinion. There were some scripture references, and at the end the author makes it clear that the movie was based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. A couple of other Bible stories are referenced, as well. The bottom line, in my opinion? This book isn’t really needed in our family, but would be a good resource for young adults who are struggling with who they are and whether or not they are worth anything. The movie is pretty clean entertainment, if that’s what you’re looking for, just don’t be expecting a deep message.

Two more things I should mention: The filmmaker is a home school graduate; his parents were among the pioneers of the homeschooling movement. Also, there is a study guide available if small groups want to study the movie together. You can find it here.

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

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Gale’s Pond

One of the days my family were together in Michigan, we went to a local county park, Gale’s Pond. Our children used to think—and one of the younger ones asked this time—if it’s Daddy’s Pond! No, sorry; it’s named after a local family, and spelled differently.

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There were a lot of redwinged blackbirds at the pond, but this was the only one I could get even a halfway good picture of. I love their song!

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I learned something about cattails! Apparently, I never saw them at this stage before. The lower part is the female part of the flower, and develops into the sausage-like thing you see later in the year. The top part is the male part; it’s very spongy, and if you rub your hand over it you get a lot of pollen on your hand. The boys were getting it on their faces!

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We took a family picture on this bench many years ago when we had, maybe, four children, so decided to take another. What a circus getting everyone to pose! And then, the light and shadows were too harsh, so it didn’t turn out well. Good memories, anyway!

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Of course, my Mr. Intellectual had to show off how well he can shimmy up a tree with no branches.

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“Take a picture of me!”

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I’ve always loved standing on the road over the dam here.

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These two found fishing hooks and bobbers caught on the trees and worked to untangle them.

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We had fun finding Monarch butterfly caterpillars. We took five large ones home to watch them change, and found a tiny one on one of our leaves. We also found some eggs on the undersides of a few leaves—I’d never seen that before!

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And then—our boys started seeing garter snakes! Some of them had been really hoping to see a snake in the wild in America, since we have no snakes in New Zealand. They thanked God that night for letting them see snakes, but now at least one of the boys is saying he doesn’t like snakes!

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Within a couple of days, the caterpillars had all turned into chrysalises. We brought them with us to Ohio, so we’ll see after awhile if they survived the bumping around enroute.

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