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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Lake Michigan—Little Sable Point

One of the days that my family were together in Michigan, we went to Silver Lake, to play in Lake Michigan at the Little Sable Point lighthouse. Here are the world-famous Silver Lake sand dunes, viewed from across Silver Lake—the closest we got to them.

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I find this lighthouse particularly interesting, since I once read a diary written by the lighthouse keeper’s family well over a hundred years ago. They were very isolated, and the children had to move to town in the winter, with their grandparents, to go to school.

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The beach, looking south. I had forgotten how fine and soft Lake Michigan sand is! So different from our coarse sand. The lack of tides is quite different for us, too, as well as the fresh water. Salt water makes the sand really stick, even when it dries!

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The children had great fun playing in the sand, and we had fun watching them and chatting.

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My boys all went in swimming, and a few of their cousins. The water was too cold for them to be in very long, although it was much warmer than the waters of the South Pacific which we’re used to!

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My three oldest boys are good at water fights, and they also had a sand fight. They would scoop up handfuls of sand from under the water and fling them at each other, trying to duck under before they got hit. It was pretty funny to watch.

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The older children were making dribble castles, and Little Miss tried her hand at it, too.

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Mr. Sweetie became quite the expert!

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The lighthouse was open for climbing, so some of us bought tickets and climbed to the top. What a view!DSCF3032

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You can just see the sand dunes above the trees in the center of this picture.

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Grandma’s Birthday!

Our reason for traveling to America was to help celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. We had been thinking about this for a year already; at first, I was hoping to be able to come with just a few children. When we were given a lot of money after Seth died, however, we started thinking it would be possible to all come, and we’re so glad we were able to. All eight of my mother’s children and their spouses, and 22 of the living grandchildren (one step-grandchild was missing) were there, for a total of 38 people. What fun! We spent about 4 1/2 days together, getting to know each other again and enjoying watching the children play. Most of the time, we were at my one brother’s house; it’s a large house with a huge lawn and a pond that the children played in part of the time. Here is Mr. Sweetie helping Little Miss ride the toy fire truck on the deck. I’m just putting in a few of the many pictures we took, mainly of my children, because I didn’t get permission from the other parents.DSCF3004

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Decorating Grandma’s cake.

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The matriarch with all her gifts.

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Gayle catching up on some emails.

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Remarkably, it didn’t take too much time to feed so many people; we didn’t really do any planning ahead for meals, but things fell into place and every had plenty to eat, on time, every time.

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Two of my brothers and a brother-in-law getting the evening fire going.

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Little Miss and a baby cousin.

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My boys with some uncles, an aunt, and on of my cousins.

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Ready to leave for church at my brother’s, the same place we had the family gathering. See Little Miss’s hair? She leaves it that way for a few minutes at a time!

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The day after most of the family left, a few of us went canoeing. Included were our family, my sister, and one of my cousins who had come to see the family. The river was billed as quiet and calm, very safe for little children. Well, it had been raining, and was in flood, and we didn’t realize till we started out how fast and strong the current was, or how many trees were fallen down across it. It was not easy, and not safe. We all made it safely to the other end, though, thankful for God’s protection and that we all wore life jackets—and I was very glad I didn’t take my camera along! This was as we were getting ready to start out, when everything and everyone were still clean and dry and excited about the trip.

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Fun at Grandma’s House

If you want to see more pictures from our time in Michigan, please visit Esther’s blog. She has some nice posts up.

During the three weeks we were in Michigan, we stayed at my mom’s house. Gayle and the boys did several jobs she wanted done, and spiffed the place up a bit. Here, Mr. Inventor is mowing areas that the lawn mower can’t reach.

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They cut up a lot of logs and split the firewood, and stacked it neatly in a couple of woodsheds.

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Mr. Diligence contemplating his next move.

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Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence in Grandma’s kitchen.

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Storytime!

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My mom bakes for a number of people each week. This was what she baked one day.

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“See my airplane?”

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My mom wanted a tree to be cut down, but it was so close to the house that they wanted to tie a rope to it to pull it in the right direction. She didn’t have a rope, so Mr. Intellectual set to work to make one with the old rope machine my dad made some 40 years ago. He had a bit of trouble getting started, but once his dad and Mr. Inventor joined him, they were able to make several 15-metre ropes without too much trouble.

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Grandma and Mr. Inventor gave a rope-making demonstration to my brother and his family.

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My little people got to see their first toad.

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One Sunday afternoon, while the big children were at the state park with their aunt, we gave Mr. Imagination and Little Miss a wading pool. They had fun—until, “She got me wet!” “He got me wet!” And just what is a wading pool for, pray tell?

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I took a walk with my mom, and Mr. Imagination and Little Miss, that evening as well. We walked back a lane just south of her house, between orchards and woods.56-IMG_259557-IMG_2596

This groundhog was pretty intent on watching us.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes

At the end of our first week in Michigan, we took my mom and sister to a memorial service in Traverse City; the woman who died was a sister of someone I’ve known all my life, so we attended the service as well. Afterward, we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes and had fun exploring a little around there. Our children had never been there before, and neither had Gayle. We all enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery. This first photo was at the edge of Traverse City; there were a couple of railroad overpasses with bridges like this.

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Grand Traverse Bay was beautiful, and there were a lot of sail boats on it.

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As far as we know, this is one of the “Tall Ships”, replicas of the sailing vessels used on the Great Lakes a few hundred years ago. It was sailing across Grand Traverse Bay.

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The Traverse City area is famous for its cherry orchards.

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The highway between Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes is straight and flat, compared to what we’re used to at home!

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore! There are two inland lakes, and the dunes are on the other side of the overlook here.

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Lake Michigan is off in the distance.

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See the Manitou Islands off in the distance? There are two of them. The story goes that a mother bear and her two cubs were swimming across Lake Michigan to escape a forest fire in Wisconsin. They were almost to land when the cubs tired and drowned, forming  North and South Manitou Islands. The mother reached land and laid down to watch for her cubs, forming the sand dunes.

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The drive we took through the park wound around through forests like this.39-IMG_256740-IMG_2570

A favorite stop along the way is this overlook. You’re not supposed to go down to the lakeshore here, but many people do anyway—and then have to climb the 300-400 foot, steep sandy slope. We didn’t allow our boys to do it.

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Our little people loved playing in the sand dune above the trail. Mr. Imagination slid down on his tummy several times! I took his clothes off and shook the sand out before we got in the van again.

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Grandma noticed that this large boulder beside the trail was actually a huge Petosky stone. This particular type of fossilized coral is the Michigan state stone.

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This is the D. H. Day barn, a historic building.

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Traveling to Michigan

It is an enormous task to prepare to take a family of nine from New Zealand to America. It did help that I made lists, over the last couple of weeks, of jobs that needed done before taking off, and on Saturday before we left we started a list of what needed to happen each of the last three days. On Monday, I finished the sewing that had to be done, while Gayle and the boys got things done outside. There were also a lot of little jobs to do, and nearly everything was accomplished. Tuesday, I thoroughly cleaned both refrigerators, and we packed clothes. It took about three hours to do that, even with all the older children packing their own! Then, we left the suitcases open so we could put things in as we remembered them. Wednesday we cleaned house and did all sorts of other miscellaneous jobs to get ready. By evening, everything felt ready to go; it sure helped to have done the packing a couple of days ahead of time. I was relaxed enough that evening, feeling like everything was ready, that I was actually able to sleep that last night! Here is our lineup of suitcases—and Little Miss dumping mine!08-IMG_2443

We had six bags to check at the airport, so took a picture of them in case it would be needed. Thankfully, nothing got lost!

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Taking off on the first flight!

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It was clear when we took off from Christchurch, and we had a beautiful view of the Waimakariri River from the air.

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There was a heavy cloud cover at times, but I believe the sandy area in the lower right in this photo is where the boys and I went to a beach with our homeschool group a couple of months ago, near Amberley.

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The Kaikoura Mountains were spectacular! I think this sharp-pointed one is Mount Manakau, which we can see all the way from Christchurch.

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This is near Blenheim.

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We enjoyed seeing Picton from the air. We’ve been on both sides of the peninsula sticking out in the middle of the bay in the center of the picture. You can see a log yard on the closer side of that peninsula, and on the other side, the big white things are the ferries that go to the North Island.

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The Marlborough Sounds from the air.

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Sunrise over the Pacific. There were clouds below us all the way across. It was beautiful, with a full moon shining on them, but the sunrise was even more beautiful. This flight took 13 hours, which seemed to be about forever. The three youngest slept fairly well, and I think Gayle got some decent sleep. Esther and I only slept an hour or two each, and the three big boys didn’t do well at all. We were all glad to land on the ground in Houston!

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Mexico

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We had seven hours in Houston. Some friends who live about 2 1/2 hours from there met us at the airport and took us to a park, where they fed us. It was so good to get out of the airport and have fresh air and room to move—not to mention the wonderful fellowship!

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We spent a day in Ohio resting and recovering and spending time with Gayle’s family, and then took off for Michigan! We have been loaned a van to use by a family who are serving as missionaries in Africa, so we have our own transportation, which is wonderful. 63-IMG_2607

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The children enjoyed seeing sights that are so different from New Zealand. We don’t have barns and silos like this back home!

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We saw a couple of large wind farms in Ohio and Indiana.

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Michigan! For you in New Zealand, these are typical highway scenes in this state.

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Mr. Diligence has had some culture shock. He was only four when we moved to New Zealand, and hadn’t been back. He is marveling at the large vehicles, and the tall buildings we saw in Cincinnati, and the tall electric poles. We keep telling him, “Everything is bigger in America!” He also had a hard time adjusting to being on the other side of the road. I’m not having much trouble driving here, although I told Mom yesterday that her car likes to go the New Zealand speed limit, which is a bit higher than the speed limit here. We are loving being with our family and getting to know them again.

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Video–The Great Water Trick

It’s been a few years since our children have made a movie, but they’ve been planning one for about three years. They finally figured out how to do it, and got it made in February. Somehow, I forgot to post it then, so here you go. I love this one!

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Book Review—None So Blind

None so blind FB Banner copy

About the Book

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Book title: None So Blind
Author: Chautona Havig
Release date: September 29, 2013
Genre: Contemporary

My Thoughts:

One thing I love about Chautona Havig—and something that always amazes me about her—is her ability to take a very improbable scenario and make it sound quite plausible. For example, what if you woke up one morning and had no idea who you were and where you were, and why a strange man was in bed with you? That’s what happened to Dani Weeks! I was quite intrigued by her struggles, and the way she tried to reconcile her former personality with her present one. I’ll have to admit that my toes were stepped on a few times as Ella (she changed her nickname to reflect that she was a different person) learned what a lazy person Dani had been. I loved this book, and am really looking forward to reading the sequel soon. To read a longer review I wrote, click here.


The Author’s Synopsis:
Dani and Ella Weeks–two women who share one thing in common. The same life, the same family, and the same body.

When Dani wakes with no knowledge of who or where she is–no memories of her life at all–David and Dani Weeks discover that “til death do us part” takes on an entirely unexpected meaning. Practically speaking, Dani died. But she didn’t.

What’s a gal to do?

In a desperate attempt to separate the old life from the new, Dani insists on a new name, a twist of her old one–Ella.

Ella’s doctors can’t explain what happened. Her children can’t understand why she doesn’t know them. David, her husband, finds himself torn between admiration for the “new” version of his wife and missing the woman he’s known for over fifteen years.

Will Ella ever regain her memory? Why does their pastor suspect it’s one great hoax?

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

“Who are you, again?”

“I’m Joe’s, daughter. Vyonie.” My sister pointed to me. “This is Chautona.”

For some odd reason, the niece she spent the least amount of time with, Aunt Doris remembered—somewhat. But she didn’t remember Vyonie from what I could tell. She smiled at me, that amazing, sweet smile I’d never forget. She asked how I was. I always thought that Mrs. Sanderson—mother of John, Alicia, and Carl on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie—looked and sounded like Aunt Doris. Of course, that memory of me didn’t last. A minute or two later, she gave me a big smile and asked if she knew me.

It gave me a picture of what it must have been like for my character, Ella Weeks—to wake up every day with these children there—children who knew her, but she didn’t remember. The hurt she caused every time she had to struggle to admit she didn’t know something she probably should—again. So, I thought I’d ask her to tell us about it.

Ella: People often assume that the worst part of losing my memory are the memories that disappeared, too. But it’s not. A much as I’d love to remember my wedding day, my daughter’s first steps, my son’s first words, or that moment I realized I was pregnant with my third, those are blessings that I don’t think about often. No, what hurts most is seeing the pain in my children’s eyes when they need me to remember something and I can’t. For me, not remembering their first day of kindergarten is an inconvenience. For them, it’s a further reminder that if they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know them. That without them pushing themselves into my life, I wouldn’t care about them any more than any other human in my path. I do now, of course, but not at first. I hate that they heard David say once, “…she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t know our children. She tries, but she could walk out of our lives tomorrow and never miss us.”

Living so close to it every day, I missed those little bits of pain that I inflicted without meaning to, but when I went with our Bible study to a nursing home and visited with the residents, then I saw it. Women with tears running down their cheeks as loved ones patted their hands and tried to comfort. I heard one man offer to find a woman’s father. She squeezed him close and whispered, “It’s okay, Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The man promised to try to find her father in the meantime.

Those people there—most of them didn’t realize they didn’t remember someone important. They didn’t struggle to remember this or that. Their dementia had gotten bad enough that their lives had gone from constant frustration to, by comparison, blissful oblivion.

And their families withered with each forgotten face, name, moment.

That’s what my “episode” did for my family. It caused them pain that just resurfaced every time something new happened. Pain that I didn’t know I inflicted. And since that visit, I have a greater compassion and awareness of just how amazing and powerful memories are.

I also have a greater appreciation for those beautiful words in Isaiah when the Lord promised… “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

You see, there’s a lifetime of the sins that Jesus died for buried somewhere in my brain—or, at least at one time there was. I know that those sins were in there, because the ones I committed yesterday are there today. The ones I’ve already confessed and been forgiven for—I beat myself up for the next morning. A week later. A month. But the Lord has wiped them clean. I just keep smearing them back out there again as if to say, “But You don’t get how BAD I was.” Yeah. The arrogance, right? Because an almighty, holy God can’t possibly understand how sinful a sinner that He had to DIE to save from those sins… is. The arrogance? That’s an understatement.

But all those years before that horrible morning… gone. Maybe I stole something. I don’t know. It was forgiven, wiped clean, and then wiped from my memory. I can’t rehash it with the Lord over and over. I can’t drag it back up like a wife who won’t let her husband forget the one time he forgot her birthday. I can’t use it as a whip to beat myself up with. And I think there’s something beautiful in that.

Do I wish I could stop hurting my family with my blank past? Of course. But am I also grateful for a living picture of the fresh start the Lord gives His people at salvation? Definitely. I hope I never take it for granted again.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher 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.

Click here to purchase your copy.

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Correction—Back to Kaikoura

I’m sorry about the missing picture from the post about going to Kaikoura for the first time in a couple of months. I mentioned a broken shipping container, but forgot to add in the picture; that particular photo came from Mr. Diligence’s memory card and I got it from him later. So, here it is.

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