Archive for Vacations

An Evening with Rory Feek

It was probably about four years ago that I became aware of Joey and Rory Feek; delightful country and gospel music singers who were starting to cause sensations on the national scene with their music.  After the birth of their daughter, Indiana, Joey received the devastating diagnosis of cancer. She fought valiantly for about two years  but one spring evening in March 2016, Joey slipped away to her heavenly home. Rory was not only a song writer and composer but also an amazing blogger who shared with the world their powerful love story; a story of faith, hope, promise, broken and fulfilled dreams and life. Millions of us fell in love with this hometown Tennessee couple by watching their TV show and reading his blog, “This Life I Live”.

After Joey’s death, Rory said he would never sing or write songs again. But God is healing his broken heart and once again he has started having concerts on his farm in the “barn” converted into a concert hall. He shared with us Saturday night that he is very close to writing songs again.

When we heard Rory was having concerts on the farm in Hardison Mill, Tennessee, we decided we wanted to go.  Vacations are always good, but some go down as “extra special”.  Let me tell you, this one was extra, extra special. Tops!

Hardison Mill is south of Nashville and about five miles from Columbia. It is such a small little berg that it didn’t even make it on our map, although GPS knew how to navigate us there!  It was a ten hour drive plus stops.  We drove half-way Friday night and the rest on Saturday, allowing us to arrive at noon for the 7 PM concert. We decided to look up Marcy Jo’s restaurant for lunch.  Marcy is Rory’s sister.  The Jo in the name is for Joey. She and Joey worked together for nine years. It turned out that the restaurant was about 2 miles from the farm.

Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse Restaurant:

We were in for a total surprise. This quaint, rustic, little restaurant was a step-back into time.  Built in 1891 (I believe they said), it is still the old, weathered store it used to be with a history to tell.  It sits a few feet off the road at a very busy intersection, the corner of 431 and 99, the road to Columbia.  The place was overflowing with people waiting to have the experience of eating at the now famous Marcy Jo’s!  We had to wait one hour to get our genuine home-cooked meal.

The bustling place is very small with friendly waitresses and seats about forty. Upstairs is a shopping area filled with jewelry and antiques.  The walls are covered with antiques and pictures and the shelving behind the counter is filled with Marcy Jo’s cookbooks, Rory and Joey’s CD’s and books, T-shirts, local honey and glassware for sale. An old potbelly stove sits in the middle at the back.  I saw a picture of Joey and Rory hanging on the wall that was taken in the store. It appeared that I may have been sitting in the very spot she sat. The place was full of Joey essence and you almost expected her to come through the door.  Joey and Rory were ordinary country folks, living and working in rural hometown USA with big dreams.  Using their God-given talents of music and blogging, they won their way into our hearts and have become loved and esteemed all over the world.

A very magical thing happened at the restaurant. Suddenly time slowed to a grinding halt.  We were truly on vacation and no longer in a hurry to get someplace.  As we sat on a bench on the porch with the group hanging around waiting for our turn to go inside, I realized we were all strangers chatting together as if neighbors gathered at the local store. “Where are you from? Are you here for the concert?” For an hour we chatted with people from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Memphis, St. Louis and Mechanicsville, VA, which is in the area of our hometown. We talked mostly about Rory and Joey and the specialness of this spot.  It was special because though we were strangers, we had a common bond, we had been invited into the intimate lives of Joey and Rory’s through their writing and music.  All of us at the restaurant were probably tourists, there for the concert or passing through. The locals drove by, honked their horns and gaily waved, welcoming us. You only honk at people you know, right? They knew why we were there and also knew better than to eat there on concert day!

Inside we were seated at the “family” table in the center with about eight other people.  Seated beside us were two girls from St. Louis. The one’s name was Jill, making it very easy for us to remember! We enjoyed our time chatting with them.

Gene ordered “Rory’s Overall Breakfast,” advertised as Rory’s favorite entree of Angel Flake biscuits, sausage gravy and easy-over eggs, topped with shredded cheese.

I ordered the “Boss Hog”, a tender, grilled tenderloin with bacon, barbecue sauce, and cheese on a homemade bun with onion rings. It was a delicious meal.

The Concert:

 

Waiting for the doors to open.

Filling the seats and waiting for the show to begin. The barn holds 300 people and it was a sold-out crowd. We had the neat privilege of sitting beside one of Joey’s childhood friends from Indiana who was there for the show. She told us stories and pointed out family and friends of the Feeks.

The big screen said, “Enjoy the Show!” For the next 3 hours we did.  Usually the show last 1-1/2 hours but somehow this evening, time slipped by and apparently Rory also lost track of time and we were treated to double time!

The evening was a mixture of story telling, music and entertainment.

Rory’s oldest daughter, Heidi, also sang, and her boyfriend, Dillion, played guitar.

Indy was brought on stage for a short visit and a little girl from the audience gave her a card she made.

Rory called his two sisters to the stage and introduced them. Marcy is on the left and Candy is on the right. He asked a pastor in the audience to pray for the evening and especially Candy, as she is fighting cancer.

A professional fiddle playing friend of Rory’s whose first name was Daniel was in the audience. After the intermission, they got him on stage for an amazing instrumental hoe-down with Dillion.

Friendly cowboys friends showing us where to park.

 

Story Telling:

This was a picture Rory showed of the house when he bought the farm in 1999. It was a fascinating story.

Now it looks like this!

Indiana is a special needs child with Downs Syndrome. He just finished builting the schoolhouse for her with money that came as love gifts after Joey’s death. The school, opening this fall, will be for Indy, along with a selected number of other special needs children.

Pictures of the Farm:

We were not allowed to roam the farm but oh how I wanted to!!! I took some pictures from the concert hall area. It was a beautiful, picture perfect, manicured farm.

 

 

 

I saw the grove of trees across the field with the fence around it and I knew. I knew this was “the spot”, the resting place of Joey, her mother, and the previous owners of the farm.  Rory’s bench beckoned me but this was his personal, private spot and it is not open to the public, so we stood at a distance and gazed, to pay our respects.

The concert hall is also used on Sunday mornings for “Cowboy Church”. They have two services, 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. (if I remember correctly). We would loved to have attended but with our 10-hour plus drive home we just couldn’t make it work.

A few other pictures:

This picture I had to take. It was in the concert hall and really made us smile as we have sold Purina feed in our store for 35 years and fed it for years and years before that! For loyal Purina dealers this antique sign was a added bonus.

A picture of Julie, who was Joey’s best friend, is still involved with the family and all their doings. We happened to be sitting next to a couple at the concert who are long-time family friends and they pointed out numerous special people to us.

Marcy brings and sells slices of her signature cakes at the concerts; a luscious chocolate called Cola Cola Cake, Elvis Cake, and Heath Bar Cake, to name a few.

And finally….

I wanted a signed copy of Rory’s two books; ” This Life I Live” and  “Once Upon a Farm”.  When I purchased the books, I asked if they were signed and the guy at the counter said no, but after the show Rory would sign the books.  When the show was over we were on the wrong side of the room and it was late and I think half the crowd was in the line. I decided to forgo the wait. When I got home and opened my books, to my surprise and delight they were already signed. I just didn’t get to shake his hand and thank him.

You can go to Rory’s website for more information about his blog, books, cd’s, the movie about their life and schedule for the concerts. It was a wonderful evening and one I will remember for a long time. Tops!

 

 

 

The Ark

 

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God….. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence……so make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.  This is how you are to build it….. Noah did everything just as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 6: 10-14, 22 (NIV

 

This past weekend we went to see a replica of Noah’s ark in Williamstown, Kentucky.  Words almost can’t describe this amazing, spectacular,  awesome, massive structure and the impact it has on a person as you walk up and enter the ark. It is the largest free-standing timber-framed structure in the world and can hold up to 10,000 people at one time, although I would not want to be there on that day. It felt ironic that we were heading to the ark and it was very rainy, Houston is dealing with a massive flood, the largest recorded in US history except for the Genesis flood, and big, bad hurricane Irma is snorting, stomping, blowing and flexing her muscles into a major Category 5 storm in the Atlantic, heading for the eastern shores of the US.

I believe the Biblical stories are truth.  I believe the story of Noah building the boat, saving his family (wife, 3 sons and their wives), and two of every animal kind coming to Noah and entering the ark at God’s command. I believe the world-wide flood literally happened, creating the Grand Canyon and many other national wonders. I believe they lived on the ark for over a year before God gave the command to open the door and leave. I believe this catastrophic event was God’s judgment on a very sinful world. Seeing and experiencing the “Ark Encounter”  made the story come alive and the incredible miracle of God saving a righteous man and his family and ensuring that a world of humans and animals would thrive and multiple afterwards. Thanks to Noah and his faith in God and his obedience to God’s instruction, everyone of us is here today.

The Bible gives many details about the size, and details for building the structure and the ensuing flood. The story can be read in Genesis 6-9. There are many details not recorded about the daily care of the animals, cages, disposal of waste, and family life aboard the ark but we do know that God told Noah everything he needed to know to build and prepare. Noah believed God, and God counted him righteous.

In building this replica ark, much thought and prayer was given to present the interior in a way that was biblical and historical accurate. This story has now taken on new meaning for me.  The pictures below are an attempt to show the unique, magnificent structure and stir a desire in you to visit the site and spend a day with Noah and his family on the ark.

Viewing the ark from a distance. All you could say was “wow”!

 

Noah

Noah praying with his family.

“The door”. The Bible says God closed the door before the storm began.  Our grandson, Ryan, was so disappointed that we didn’t enter the ark through the door.

Grain storage.

Water storage.

Food storage.

More storage.

Cages.

More cages showing automatic feeders and waterers. They are not that much different from today! See the slanted floor under the cage? Most of the cages had slated floors and the manure sifted through to the slanted floor onto the slide so that it would fall to an area where it could be retrieved. The eight people on the ark had a maximum of 7,000 animals to care for. The Bible says he took animal “kinds” into the ark. There are 1,398 known animal “kinds”.

The task would have been enormous. It is almost impossible to totally visualize the daily logistics of care. But if God cared enough about preserving the life of the animals and Noah and his family, I know he gave him wisdom and insight and probably direct instructions on how to make life manageable.  After all, they had to have food and water for a year, plus waste management! If Noah had a water collection system on the roof of the ark, one inch a week would have supplied all his water needs for the year.  The ark shows how all that is possible and it is amazing!

Because the ark would have been dark (they had no electricity in those days) except for the use of lanterns, torches and the natural light from the windows on top, quite a few of the animals would have been in a semi-state of hibernation.

A probable automatic feeding system.

Managing the work.

A water system for two cages made from pottery.

A possible work area to do repairs and maintenance.

Storage area for scrolls and other artifacts they would have been taken on board. After all, God told Noah very specifically that EVERYTHING would be destroyed. Noah would have wanted to preserve his personal possessions, tools, etc.

The families would have had their living areas. God would have carefully  cared for Noah’s family. After all, they had to eat, sleep, and rest so that they could stay healthy and strong to do the work. This was a new thought to me.

 

Kitchen area.

With the living quarters on the top deck they could have taken advantage of window ventilation.

By using reflective light from the windows they could have grown fresh green vegetables.

 

The modern idea of raised beds could have been used thousands of years ago!  It is a thought!

Noah releasing a dove to check to see if the water had receded.

The Hostetters (our daughter and her family) bought a peg during the building of the ark process for $100. It was a neat fundraising idea. Each peg was numbered and they were told which area their peg was in but we weren’t able to tell which peg was theirs. Jill decided to claim that one as theirs!

It was a wonderful day and our time spent at the ark was probably the highlight of our trip. However, the visit to the Creation Museum (about 30 miles away) the day before was tremendous. We heard a speaker on evolution versus creation and even Karla was enthralled with the information.

 

We ate lunch in the restaurant on site. The all-you-could-eat buffet was delicious and the surroundings were spectacular.

 

The bow of the ark.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you–the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground-so that they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it. So Noah came out….

The Noah built an altar to the Lord…. and the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man…never again will I destroy all living creatures….as long as the earth remains.”

Then God blessed Noah….and God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant…..”

Genesis 8: 15-22, 9:1-17

Some interesting facts:

  • Size of Ark: The building of the original ark was an engineering feat. It was built without modern equipment. The Ark had a ratio (length x width x height) of 30 x 5 x 3. According to ship-builders, this ratio represents an advanced knowledge of ship-building since it is the optimum design for stability in rough seas. The Ark, as designed by God, was virtually impossible to capsize! It would have to have been tilted over 90 degrees in order to capsize. The size in the Bible is given in cubits as being 300 cubits long (510′) by 50 cubits wide (85′) and 30 cubits high (51′). A cubit in the OT was generally about 17.5 inches. However, an Egyptian royal cubit measured about 20.5 inches. Since Moses was educated in Egypt we must allow for the possibility that the longer measurement was meant here. The Ark, therefore, could have measured from 437 feet to 512 feet in length! It was not until the late 19th century that a ship anywhere near this size was built.(taken from website: http://www.ldolphin.org/cisflood.html). The titanic was 883 ‘ long or 3 times this size.
  • Date of flood: Utilizing the genealogies in the Bible we know the flood was close to 4,400 years ago, roughly 1,650 years after the creation. Noah was 600 when the Flood came (Genesis 7:6). From Scripture we know the date of the start of the Flood (Genesis 7:11) and when they left the Ark (Genesis 8:14–15), so we know they were on the Ark for a little over a year. (taken from website: https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/what-we-know-of-noah/).
  • Animals in the ark: a pair (male and female) of each “kind” of “unclean” animals, 7 pairs of every bird and 7 pairs of each “clean” animal.  “Clean” animals were used for eating and sacrifice. No fish were taken into the ark. (Genesis 7:2-3)
  • Noah’s family history: Methuselah, the oldest known man,  lived 969 years and was Noah’s grandfather. He died about 5 years before the flood. Lamech was his father and he also died shortly before the flood. (Genesis 5:26-32).
  • Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Genesis 5:32) and was 500 years old when they were born.
  • Noah’s age: at the time of the flood: Noah was 600 years old, 2 months and 17 days when the flood came. (Genesis 7:11).
  • Death of Noah: Noah live 350 years after the flood and died when he was 950 years old.
  • Length of rain/storm: 40 days and 40 nights.
  • Depth of flood: the highest mountain peaks in the world were covered by 15 cubits.
  • Construction of ark: had 1 door (which God closed) and a row of windows on top for light and ventilation. There was no steering mechanism as the ark just floated on the water and God directed where it would go and that it was to stop on the Mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4)
  • Amount of water and food needed for twelve months: 322,400 gallons of water and 400 tons of various grains, seeds, nuts, preserved fruits, vegetables and possibly insects. The water could have been stored in storage vessels and cisterns. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Size of animals: 85% were 22 lbs or under. 7% 22.1 lbs to 220 lbs. and 8% over 220 lbs. They probably took young stock of the larger animals. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Cages needed: 22 extra large, 186 large, 293 medium, 308 bird, 174 small and 415 amphibian. (Taken from info posted in the ark).
  • Daily work requirements: With an eight person crew it would have taken 3 to do the cleaning, 1 to water, 1 to feed, 1 to deal with human food and special animal diets, .5 to shovel waste from pit to pump and 1.5 to do laundry, human waste removal, maintenance, animal care and miscellaneous. No one was allow to be lazy! (Taken from info posted in the ark).

 

Maui-2015

Aloha!

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This was our second trip to Maui, the first was in 1991.  This was a gathering of Purina dealers from all across the US who qualified with increased sales. We were one of the lucky ones to earn the trip. There were approximately 500 of us there. 0304152101 (2) We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Lahaina, on the west side of the island. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles. (46 miles long and 26 miles wide).  Lahaina was the capital of the islands until it was moved to Honolulu, Oahu.  The climate is tropical and hovers between 70-85 degrees year round. It is truly a lush, tropical paradise with colorful birds, flowers, palm trees and beaches.

Our view from our hotel room.

View from Hotel

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IMG_7455 IMG_7454 They have very fertile soil and grow coconut, macadamia nuts, cocoa, pineapple, coffee, tropical flowers, sugar cane and papaya.  The agriculture is dwindling due to high cost.  I am not sure if I remember what all our tour guide told us but even if I am wrong, you will get the picture. In years past they planted close to 150,000 acres of sugar cane. This is now down to 37,000 acres and within ten years they will plant their last crop and the land is being sold to a developer. They can import from other countries cheaper than they can grow, process and sell in their own markets. They are now growing only 1000 acres of pineapple. They have developed a sweeter pineapple than is grown anywhere else in the world but again it is no longer feasible to grown their own. IMG_7482

Sugar cane growing in the field.

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Aging sugar cane mill.

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Cocoa Pod

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Slimy cocoa beans inside the pod. It is a fascinating process they go through to make coco.

Maui is the leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui county.  Since this was prime season you could catch glimpses of spouts and whales flipping out of the waters. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui, with most leaving by the end of April. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults, or groups of a mother, her calf, and a few suitors.

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I happened to have my camera focused on this boat when the whale rose out of the water.

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I never got a picture of a spout. By the time you saw them, it was too late to take a picture.

One of the fascinating attractions in Lahaina is the famous Banyan Tree, taking up a whole city block. It is the second largest of it’s kind in the world. The largest is in Egypt.  All the different trunks represent one tree.

The Tree

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A sampling of other pictures around the hotel.

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The island in the background is  Kahoʻolawe. It is known as the deserted island due to it’s lack of fresh water and wood.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States military used it as a training ground for the military and navy.  It is now owned by a billionaire and there is a beef ranch and a deserted leprosy colony. Before they had a cure for leprosy, persons contracting the dreaded disease were banished to this island to live out their days.

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Yes, they even had penguins.

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No place is complete without a pink flamingo!

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Their doves have a black and white checkered band around their necks.

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Tiki Lanterns

My love of tiki lanterns started when we were here in 1991.

Breakfast view

Their Polynesian culture and religion is part of the uniqueness of the island but it is so sad to see their worship of gods. Do you see the face in the waterfalls? (One of the ancient gods).  See the closer view below.

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A lot of their livelihood is based on tourism and water.  Some of the things you can do is whale-watch, snorkel, suba-dive, fish, take a submarine, sail, surf, kite-board, etc.

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I loved watching and listening to the waves crash onto shore. One day I went to the beach by our hotel and sat in the sand by these rocks and let the waves crash over me. It was so refreshing.

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I was going to sit on one of the rock and just as I was in the process of sitting I spied a “thing” that made me change my mind!  It was the same color as the rock-barely visible, and I don’t know if it was a spider or a crab. It looked like a spider body with crab legs. It was maybe 3-4 inches across. I am not sure what made me even see it but I was so grateful he did not end up inches from my down-sitter! I was wishing for my camera but I hadn’t taken it along to the beach.

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So there we are folks. I enjoyed sharing glimpses of our trip with you.

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To read about our submarine tour: “Just Like Me”.

Just Like Me

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On our recent trip to Maui, we took a very interesting submarine tour of the coral reefs.  At 125 feet below the surface there is a whole different world of God’s grand and glorious creation.

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As we peered through the port holes, we saw brightly colored schools of fish, an eel, several sharks, different kinds of coral plants and a submerged ship being used as a reef and habitat for fish.  The plants can only grow as deep as sunlight penetrates and small fish can only live where the coral plants grow.  When the sub moved off the reef, there was nothing but dark, murky ocean water.

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In the sub there were 47 molded seat indentations on the bench going the length of the submarine and they fill it to capacity-47 people.  You could not scoot down a few inches to give your seat mate additional space. So there I sat, squeezed in between “the man” and my husband, shoulders hunched with my arms pulled in towards my middle trying to make myself smaller. It was not a pleasant ride.   I kept glancing sideways at “the man” who was head and shoulders taller than me with his arms crossed, resting on his ballooning, well-endowed mid-section. I knew he was feeling the squeeze but I only felt sympathy for myself.  My cynical, critical mind critiqued him well!

Later I was thinking about this obese man and several others I encountered along the way.  There were people on our airplane that could hardly navigate the aisle much less fit into a seat. The thought suddenly hit me. They were just like me at one time.  Just like me!  I can not pride myself with thinness. The only thing I can smugly say is “I am not like them”.   I admit I  am “a little” overweight. I know it and am seriously, actively working on it.  But because I did not see myself  like them, I bestowed on myself the credentials to judge them. Hummmm.

The liar didn’t start out intending to lie and the murderer probably never dreamed he would kill. The prostitute was once pure and the list goes on. We choose, through a series of many decisions, to let ourselves become who we are; often unintentionally, often never imagining we will become who we are. Very few obese persons really desire to be overweight.  If we don’t stop our destructive habits before they get bad, they will control our lives. One lie does not make a person a habitual liar nor does 10 pounds make a person obese but it sure can put us on that path.

Usually I will strike up a conversation with a seat mate but this time I sat there miffed that I was the one who had to sit beside him and his equally oversized wife. I did not say one word to this fellow Purina dealer. The Apostle Paul said, “Those that compare themselves among themselves are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12).   Jesus had some sobering words, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1-2)

“Just like me” may not be the safest yardstick of measure.  Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.  The yardstick needs to be against the truth of God’s Word.  “Against such there is no law”. (Galatians 6:22-23)

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 Other pictures of our Maui trip

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