How to add one small (but critical) thing to your day?

When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? Really! After all, you do hard work in the trenches — shepherding kids! (Whether they are yours or someone else’s.)

Shepherd with sheep

Nurturing children transpires into a mighty challenge! You spend time with them, read to them, carpool them all over town, offer healthy foods, make sure they brush their teeth, enforce a respectable bedtime… you love them! You are doing a great job, especially because you push through when it gets hard.

Because, sometimes you don’t have all of the answers.

It is the same way with talking to our kids about their spirituality. Do you feel inadequate? (I do.)

I’m giving you permission to add one small, but critical thing, to your parenting portfolio.

Keep on trying to add conversation about faith issues.

Figure out where you are regularly gathered all together. (In the car, at the dinner table, or at getting-ready-for-bed reading time). Make a new daily habit.

Ask just one question: Where did you see God today?

That’s all you have to ask. Just listen. (And don’t worry if it doesn’t happen every day.)

Allow time for digging deeper. Empower your family to wonder at the mystery of what God is up to and how he wants to be in your life!

a blue line


Photo credits:
Shepherding sheep by Biegun Wschodni, who has released this photo to the Public Domain. Offered at unsplash.com.

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How to practice kind words? Chutes and Ladders anyone?

kind, caring word cloud

You’ve heard the old rhyme about sticks and stones, and words not wounding?

Not true!

Our words do matter; to others, and to God!

God really cares about the words that we use and how we use them. How do we talk about this issue with our household? Join us for some discussion!

Start the conversation in the car, or around the family dinner table, or wherever your family is gathered together. Spread the questions out over several sessions. Ask these questions even if you missed the video showing!

Have some family time discussion…

  • Do you find it easy or hard, to use kind words with someone you know well? What about with someone who is a stranger? With someone you dislike? Someone who is giving you a hard time?
  • Have you ever heard the expression: “Kill them with kindness” — what do you suppose it means?
  • Do you feel that there is a difference between acting kindly and true kindness that comes from the heart? How would the two look different?
  • The Bible has lots to say about how we should use our words. Take turns looking up a verse and talking about what it means to you: Luke 6:45, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 16:24, Psalm 19:14, and Ephesians 4:29.
  • Several of these verses were from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book full of short instructions on living wisely. Watch this short video about Proverbs. (If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)
  • The Bible tells us that our words are important to God. Why do you suppose God cares about what we say?
    Jesus taught that “A person’s mouth says everything that is in their heart” (Luke 6:45). God listens to what we say; it tells him what is in our innermost selves. God loves us. So of course God would care about us. And, since God loves everyone, he cares about the effect our words could have on other people.
  • Chutes-and-Ladders game boardIn class on Sunday we played a version of Chutes and Ladders. If your child didn’t bring home a game board, get two here. (This will download a Word doc to your downloads folder.)
  • Play this game at home. Use small items as game pieces and toss a dice to play a round.

    Have fun while practicing using kind words!

     

    This summer, we hope you’ll join us on our movie adventure and also, continue the learning at home.

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    Photo credits:
    A created word cloud by moi. Shared at flickr under a Creative Commons license. I also created the game board.

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    Surf Shack VBC – Friday

    Surf Shack Vacation Bible Camp logo

    The report from day 5, the last day of our time together with 145 surfers at the Surf Shack — Vacation Bible Camp at FUMC, where we have been…

    Catching the wave of God’s amazing love!

    (Check out all of our Surf Shack VBC posts with slideshows (scroll down to view each individual day.)

    Our day started at Tidal Tunes with singing, of course! (I’m going to miss this!) But you know what? Your child can once again be up-front this coming Sunday as we’ll be singing our favorite song (Shine Bright) in the church service at FUMC. Put on your VBC t-shirt and please do join us at 9:30!

    Skippy and Snappy, were curious this morning. They wondered what strange breakfasts surfers had experienced in the past. It was fun to hear some of the responses. Snappy got a little nervous when one surfer said they’d had crab for breakfast!

    crabs for breakfast

    Skipper was asking questions about our morning meal because today’s Bible story was about a breakfast on a beach. You can read our story in the Bible at John 21:1-17. Our story includes an amazing fishing incident where, after many fruitless tries to catch fish, Jesus’ disciples listen to Jesus as he urges them to “try again.” At that, the disciples catch an abundance of fish! They then join Jesus for breakfast on the beach. Afterwards Jesus sends them into the world to tell the Good News about Jesus’ love.

    That ties right into our Wave Words for the day…

    God Sends!

    There are lots of instances in the Bible where God reminds us that he wants us to go into the world. Listen to our Pop-Up Verse

    Open quote markThen I heard the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Whom should I send, and who will go for us?’ I said, ‘I’m here; send me.’ (Isaiah 6:8)

    I’m wondering if we will willingly join in and say, “I’m here. Send me!”

    The Grad Group gathers up all of the cereal boxes to be counted.The Grad Group counted all of the donated cereal boxes and coins. The report: Boxes of cereal… 170 and for Camp Garjay in Liberia… $500.64 (Double chill!) They delivered the last load to Bryant Community Center. After that, they had some outdoor group games at Burns Park. A very successful week of service for our Grad Group!

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    Here’s a video from Wednesday of Go With the Flow.

    If reading this in an email, you may need to watch the video at this link.

     
    VBC for next year
     
    And… Put these dates on your calendar now!
     
    Thanks for sharing your kids with us. I hope to see you on Sunday!

     
    ~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Interested in a little taste of VBC every week? Read about our awesome way of teaching kids all about our loving God. We’ll be starting up again on Sunday, September 11th.


    Photo credits:
    Surf Shack images used by permission of Cokesbury.
    Rest of photos… special thanks to Tom Gardner for the videos and multitude of pictures every day, and to Beth, Melanie, Wendy, Juli, Mary, and Tori.

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    Surf Shack VBC – Thursday

    Surf Shack Vacation Bible Camp logoIt’s day 4 of our time together at the Surf Shack VBC (Vacation Bible Camp) at FUMC, where we have been…

    Catching the wave of God’s amazing love!

    (Check out all of our Surf Shack VBC posts. They are loaded with pictures!)

    Snappy tried to stay low.We got right down to singing today at Tidal Tunes. We were amped! (Did you know that “amped” is surfer lingo for “really looking forward to a surf.”) It was a few minutes before we realized that Snappy was frightened! Snappy was afraid of the stormy weather we’d had! All of that thunder…

    What do you do when you are afraid? How do you calm yourself down? You saw what Snappy did! He (she?) hid! I wonder if we heard some hints on other ways to deal with our fears, as we soon learned that…

    God Calms!

    That’s good to know isn’t it. Because sometimes I feel all confused inside, like my thoughts are jumbled and I’m headed for a shipwreck! It is good to be reminded that God can provide peace to any situation, and can calm our fears.

    Over the course of the morning we heard about a Bible story where Jesus really calmed things down! He calmed the wild wind and waves! You can read this story in Luke 8:22-25.

    Today’s Pop-Up Verse is a good one to put to memory.

    Open quote markThe God of peace will be with you.   Philippians 4:9b

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    What did we do today? At the bottom of this post, is a slideshow of photos with captions that tell the story of what your kids engaged in today.

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    Continue the learning at home!

    Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table or wherever your family gets together:

    • When is a time when you faced a troubling situation. How did you handle it?
    • When the storm happened in our Bible story, Jesus was asleep in the boat! His disciples must have thought that Jesus didn’t care. Have you ever felt that way – wondering if God cares what is happening in you life? Our story shows us that God does care! Knowing that God cares about us gives us something we can do during a storm: trust in God.
    • Just because we believe in Jesus do you suppose that means that we’ll be less likely to have difficulties in our life? (Nope. Storms happen to us all.) Think about this: what do you suppose it would be like to go through a hard time if you didn’t believe in Jesus?
    • After Jesus calmed the storm, he asked his disciples: “Where is your faith?” How would you describe your faith right now? Could you handle a frightening situation? (It is interesting to note that John Wesley often asked a similar question of his fellow Christians: “How goes it with your soul?”)

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    Enjoy the slide show! (Start it by clicking the triangle button.) And, a blessing for your day…

    May you trust in Jesus through storms in your lives!

    ~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


    Photo credits:
    Surf Shack images used by permission of Cokesbury.
    Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

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    Surf Shack VBC – Wednesday

    Surf Shack Vacation Bible Camp logo

    It’s day 3 at the Surf Shack — Vacation Bible Camp at FUMC and we are…

    Catching the wave of God’s amazing love at
    Surf Shack!

    (Be sure to visit all of the days of our hanging out together at the Surf Shack.)

    We were amped for Tidal Tunes today! (Did you know that “amped” is surfer lingo for “really looking forward to a surf.” Yep, we were amped.) We learned one new song — Go With the Flow — and sang the “repeats.” Watch this:

    If reading this in an email, you may need to watch the video at this link.


     
    Skippy and Snappy the Crab were back. Snappy sure used some big words today: Crabulous and crabtastic! What will Snappy say next?

    Each day we are learning more about God. Today we learned that:

    God Loves!

    In particular, we heard about a big way that one day God gave some “thumbs up” type of love. It happened in a river. (Have you noticed that all of our stories this week have been about water?)

    What was the big thumbs up? Right after Jesus was baptized God told everyone…

    Open quote markThis is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.

    That is from the Bible in Matthew 3:17b. We can read all about this event in Matthew 3:13-17, and in John 1:29-34. I’m sure it was a crabtastic experience for Jesus!

    VBC refridge magnet day 3 - God LovesTo help us remember today’s Wave Words — “God Loves” and our Pop-Up Verse, we got another Scripture Treasure magnet!

    Are you lining yours up on the fridge? Are you able to say them all? That’s like storing up God’s good words in your “heart.” (Need other ways to help your kids learn Bible verses? Check this out.)

     
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    At the bottom of this post, is a slideshow of photos that tell the story of what your kids did today. Talk about it while you look at the pictures.

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    What did the Grad Group do today? They worked on another mission project, of course! They delivered cereal boxes to the Bryant Community Center. While they were there they also helped clean up and weeded. They sure are being God’s hands and feet this week. Oh, and they also reported our fund raising results so far. We’re getting closer to our goal! Boxes of cereal: 71. Money for Camp Garjay in Liberia: $202.94 so far!

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    Continue the learning at home!

    Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table or wherever your family gets together:

    • Today we learned that God loves. Who is someone that you love? What are some ways you show your love to that person?
    • We can show our love to others. What about ways we tell them we love them? When was the last time you said words of praise to someone else?
    • When God gave Jesus a “thumbs up,” God said that Jesus was his son and that he loved Jesus. Re-read today’s Pop-Up Verse. Have your child close his or her eyes as you say this to them: “You are my child whom I love. I find happiness in you.” (You’ve just blessed your child! Read all about the importance of regularly blessing your kids.
    • Here’s a couple of Bible questions: What Testament are the books of Matthew and John in? What are the names of the four books that start off the New Testament? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) What do we call those four books, collectively? (the Gospels) Can you tell me what the word “gospel” means? (good news) What is the good news in today’s story?

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    Enjoy the slide show! (Start it by clicking the triangle button.)

    See you tomorrow!

    ~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


    Photo credits:
    Surf Shack images used by permission of Cokesbury.
    Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

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    Surf Shack VBC – Tuesday

    Surf Shack logo

    Welcome back to highlights of our Surf Shack – day two! It’s Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at FUMC where we are…

    Catching the wave of God’s amazing love at
    Surf Shack!

    (Be sure to visit all of the days of our hanging out at the Surf Shack.)

    We learn a new song, with more motions.

    Tidal Tunes was once again an epic time! (Did you know that “epic” is surfer lingo for “awesome.”) We learned new songs, and of course we had to sing the “old” ones. Singing is so much fun! Even Snappy joins in.

    Skippy and SnappyWe were just getting started and Skippy got a call on her “shell phone.” (Yep, it was a shell.) That meant we needed to watch the video feed from the Surf Central Factory. I wonder what sort of board they will design today? It will have something to do with helping because today we learned that:

    God Helps!

    We heard about a time when God helped a small baby named Moses. It was interesting how God helped Moses. God didn’t flash lightening bolts, instead he worked “behind the scenes” — it was a case of God at work helping, through people.

    You see, Moses was living in some tough times. There was a king called “Pharaoh” who was afraid of the increasing number of Hebrews that were living in Egypt. So to try and stop them, he tried to kill all the Hebrew baby boys. But it didn’t work with Moses!

    Our surfers met three awesome women: Moses’ big sister Miriam, Moses’ mother and Pharaoh’s daughter. God helps Moses by helping these women make bold choices. And Moses’ life is saved! Surfers realize that they too can trust in God for help in their lives.

    VBC refridge magnet day 2 - God HelpsTo help us remember this, we’ve got another Scripture Treasure magnet! It has today’s Wave Words — “God Helps” and it has our Pop-Up Verse for the day, which is:

    Open quote markYour help has made me great.   Psalm 18:35b

    And of course we also reviewed the Overall theme verse for the week: Nehemiah 4:14b.

    Open quote markRemember that the Lord is great and awesome.

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    Down below, at the bottom of this post, is a slideshow of pictures that tell the story of what your kids did today. Ask your kids to tell you about their day. And check it out, more pictures have been added to yesterday’s report.

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    Today our “older” elementary kids in our Grad Group worked on a local mission project. They headed out to the veggie garden at Green Wood, where they harvested produce and spread wood chips. Everything that comes out of this garden gets donated to the Food Gatherers Faith and Food program. Do you know that today’s vegetable haul was the biggest amount ever from our garden? 85 pounds!!!

    The big haul! 85 pounds!

    They were back in time to report on our fund-raising progress. Keep it coming dudes, we aren’t done yet!

    The Grad Group reported on our collection so far.

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    At the end of our morning we all headed back into the Sanctuary for some more rowdy singing.

    Closing time and more singing

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    Continue the learning at home!

    Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table or wherever your family gets together:

    • When is a time when someone helped you?
    • When are times when you’ve helped others?
    • When have you been God’s helper, or how do you suppose God may be inviting you to be his helper?
    • A good time to remember that “God Helps” is when something scary happens. What should you do? Look for the helpers. God sends helpers. (Mr. Rogers came up with this answer.)
    • Here’s a couple of Bible questions: What Testament is the book of Nehemiah in? Do you know what the small “b” means in Nehemiah 4:14b? Look up this verse in a Bible and see if you can figure it out. Need some help? Try looking up yesterday’s Pop-Up Verse, Psalm 8:1b. See a pattern? (Check for punctuation marks.)
    • Interested in studying more about Moses and about God working through others? Take a look at this.

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    Enjoy the slide show!

    We are having so much fun with your kids! See you tomorrow!

    ~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


    Photo credits:
    Surf Shack images used by permission of Cokesbury.
    Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

    Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to support@wordpress.com. Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

    Surf Shack VBC – Monday

    Surf Shack Vacation Bible Camp logo
    This week it’s Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at FUMC where we are…

    Catching the wave of God’s amazing love at
    Surf Shack!

    (Be sure to visit all of the days of our hanging out at the Surf Shack.)

    our opening time

    We started off our morning with everyone — the “Surfers” — gathered in their crews with their leaders — AKA “Lifeguards.” (We are totally into surfer lingo here dude. Hang 10!).

    Snappy the crabTidal Tunes was a blast! We learned some catchy tunes, including Shine Bright and Great and Awesome. Those got us ready for the waves!

    We met Skippy and her friend, Snappy the Crab. Snappy is funny! I hope we get to see more of Snappy this week. Somehow I think we might!

    Each day during VBC we are learning about God.

    Today we learned that:

    God Creates!

    (Incidentally, whenever we heard, “God Creates!” — we responded by saying, “Amazing!”)

    Yes, God created everything! We can read all about God creating, in the Bible in Genesis 1. During Epic Ride (our Bible story telling time) our storyteller shared how God created the world for all of us. We encountered the majesty of the creation process! And we discovered that God is still creating and that everyone is a part of God’s creative plan. God’s creation is better because we’re in it!

    Scripture take home for MondayWe were introduced to a Scripture Treasure, a special magnet which we could take home with us! (I hope we can collect a set — one for each day!) It has today’s “Wave Words” — “God Creates” and it has our pop-up Bible verse for the day:

    Open quote markHow majestic is your name throughout the earth!   Psalm 8:1b

    That pretty much says it all when it comes to how we feel about the fact that God creates!

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    Here’s briefly what your kids did today, as shown in a few pictures.

    Ask your kids to tell you more about what they did! (There are more photos in a slideshow at the bottom of this post.)

    The preschoolers went off to Preschool Pier…

    making a mess making bubbles

    naming creation when we catch a ball

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    Meanwhile, elementary kids…

    games on the lawn

    creating soap bubbles in science

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    Our “older” elementary kids in our Grad Group are working every day this week on various mission projects – both local and global! They are going to be reporting on our collection progress. What are we collecting? Glad you asked…

    Each year we choose a mission for kids to support. This year we have two projects to choose from:

    1. cereal collection A local project: Please consider donating a box or two of cereal which will be distributed through Ann Arbor’s own Bryant Community Center. During the school year many families in this community rely on meals provided by the schools. In the summer months, there is no additional assistance to replace the school meals, so a box of cereal can be a big help.
    2. An international project: Collecting monetary donations that will help out Camp Garjay, a youth camp in Liberia. Camp Garjay is a United Methodist camp that offers athletic activities, community service projects, lessons, Bible quiz-bowl, and lots more, for children and youth ages 10-25 years. What a great way to help under-privileged kids! Bring your coins to the collection at the front of the Sanctuary. Thanks!

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    Mid-way through our time this morning we all gathered for a healthy snack at Shack Snacks. We ate trees!

    At the end of our morning everyone gathered together again for more singing. A good time was held by all!

    up-front is where the action is!

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    Continue the learning at home!

    Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table.
    Note: We all have questions. We don’t always have answers and this is perfectly okay. Sometimes we have to live in the mystery.

    • Sit down with a box of crayons and some paper. Create! Ask: What do you feel when you get to create something new? How does God feel about what he creates? (God thinks that it is all good!)
    • Did God really create the entire universe in six 24-hour days? (We read Genesis 1 as a poem — not all poems must rhyme. This poem was told around camp fires when someone, probably a child, asked, “how did God create the world?” It helps if we think about how this poem explained to it’s original authors, who God is, how God relates to his creation, and how we are to relate to God.)
    • Review today’s Bible verse from Psalm 8:1. In what ways does creation tell us that God’s name is majestic (stunning, superb, awesome)? Go out and look for some of God’s majesty!
    • There are actually two creation stories! (Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a and 2:4b-25) Why do you suppose there are two of them?

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    Enjoy the slideshow! (Start it by clicking the triangle button.)

    See you tomorrow!

    ~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


    Photo credits:
    Surf Shack images used by permission of Cokesbury.
    Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

    Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to support@wordpress.com. Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

    How to help kids learn the language of faith?

    Psalm 78:4b

    The words on this photo say it all. Everyone can be involved — parents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, grandparents… all of the significant adults in the life of a child.

    The language of faith can be taught by your example.

    Start with a simple word:

    Praise.”

     
    As you are outside this summer, express wonder and thanksgiving for the beauty of God’s creation. You are teaching praise! Marvel at the clouds, rain, rocks, sunsets, flowers, you name it! Get into the habit by trying to praise God in this manner, out loud, at least once a day.

    Nature - sunsets, clouds, flowers, rocks

    What are other ways to praise God?

    Clive and Ian in the Wonder-Blimp of KnowledgeThis past Sunday, in our summer video series, with Clive & Ian (in the Wonder-Blimp of Knowledge) our big question was: How do we show respect to God through praise?

    • As you sit down for supper, praise God for good foods. (Try some of these table graces.)
    • When you engage in prayer time, start off my praising God. Tell God how awesome you think that he is. ( “We adore you God!” or “God, you are truly amazing!”)
    • This coming Sunday (July 3) a hymn we will sing in church is America, the Beautiful. Singing is a great way to praise God. Lift your voices in practice! (Sing along?)
    • Look for the ways writers in the Bible praised God. (Psalm 19:1, Psalm 150, or Hebrews 13:15) …Or…
    • On Sunday we watched a second video of a mime troupe showing us physical ways to praise God that are also biblical. Watch the video below. What do you think of their suggestions as ways to praise God? Which ones can you try out? (The table below the video lists the seven ways to praise God.)

    (If reading this in an email, you may need to watch the video at this link.)

    Hebrew word Pronounced Meaning Bible reference
    TOWDAH  to-DA to sacrifice Psalm 50:23
    YADAH yah-DA to lift your hands Psalm 134:2
    BAROUCH BAR-ou to bow Psalm 95:6
    SHABACH Sha-BACH to shout Ezra 3:11
    ZAMAR ZAH-mar to play an instrument 1 Chron. 15:16
    HALAL Ha-LELL to rave and boast Psalm 44:8
    TEHILLAH Te-HEAL-a all of the above! Psalm 34:1 (the word praise here is in Hebrew, Tehillah)
    How will you help your child(re) learn the language of faith?

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    Photo credits:
    I created the collage with a Bible verse from the photo “Sunset meadow hike” by woodleywonderworks, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (Photo has been cropped and words added.)
    Other photos are from my archives with the exception of the Clive and Ian photo, which is from the producer of our video Clive & Ian’s Wonder-Blimp of Knowledge, under a fair use category.

    Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to support@wordpress.com. Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.