Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Family Events

Are you on the lookout for some special family events this summer!? With the busyness of summer rapidly approaching, we certainly know the value of taking some time to make those memories together.

This summer, our family is greatly looking forward to participating in a couple events that have been quality family fun, coupled with spiritually encouraging. We'd like to welcome you to join us!

The Lake Itasca Family Music Festival is located near Itasca State Park, MN. From August 6 - 8th you'll enjoy lots of great gospel/bluegrass music from 8 featured family dozens more during the Showcase Stage performances. Relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, instrument workshops, and the opportunity to connect with other families make this festival a one-of-a-kind highlight.

We're looking forward to providing two hour-long sessions for the children entitled "Storybook Musical Theatre" during the festival this year.

You can learn more about this festival here.

The past three years our family has enjoyed working with the Bontrager family for a week of family camp in the northeaster Iowa hills. With dozens of great outdoor -- and indoor -- activities, delicious food, practical sessions on a variety of family topics, evening keynote sessions, and lots of time for family fun in between, our goal is to provide a positive, encouraging week for each family.

You can visit the website here.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
Psalm 133:1

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Happy birthday to our dear sis-in-love, Abi!

A dmirable

B eautiful

I ndustrious

"For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth." Psalm 26:3

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Time to Pray

"Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must follow."

-- Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

2 Chron 7:14

Photo by Stephen Mally

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sweet Moments

The softness of her skin, the tiny perfection that reminds us that we're indeed "fearfully and wonderfully made." How can you describe the awe of holding a precious baby niece/grandbaby for the first time?!

Its been over a week since we met Joanna -- but as you may have noticed, last week had some delightful surprises for Elizabeth and I. A whirlwind visit to Dan and Bethany's for a week has significantly slowed my blogging. But it was totally worth it. I know -- that's a topic for another blog post!

Back to meeting Joanna... I wish we had a picture of the eager anticipation as we crammed for space in our picture window to watch Josiah and Abi's car pull into our driveway. And of their radiant faces as they were instantly smothered with hugs.

But we do have a few pictures of those precious moments as we met the little girl we'd already fallen in love with!

"She's so tiny!"

We studied each feature and gave our opinions on whether she looks more like her daddy or mommy. We decided she's the perfect mixture of both. Amazing, isn't it?!

Very obligingly, she woke up and showed us her pretty blue eyes.

The Happy Grandparents

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well."
Psalm 139:14

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blog Silence

Yes, this blog has been very quiet the past week.

No, it's not because I'm lacking things to blog about. [smile]

Through a fun turn of events, Elizabeth and I are actually back in Virginia enjoying several days with Dan and Bethany, while the rest of the family are treasuring every moment with baby Joanna and jumping into the routine of home life.

In other news, Daddy just purchased a camera for our family! After returning Bethany's camera to her, we've had a couple weeks being 'camera-less' -- which makes it rather difficult to blog. So we're looking forward to studying photography since our dear Bethany is no longer able to capture our daily happenings.

Stay tuned!

"Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness."
Ps 150:2

Life on the Road

Many of you have been asking for a documentation of a typical day on the road. We have arrived home from our Feb/March trip and are enjoying the home time. But in regards to our 'typical life', we figured out that since the first week of September we've been home a collective total of 5 weeks. So obviously, road-life has become a more routine form of life for us in the past year.

Before we arrived home, we did take time to document a day 'on the road'. However, since we left Bethany's nice camera with her in Virginia [she was so kind to loan it to us for the first part of this trip] I was a little puzzled at how to capture the action without a camera. God provided in the form of our good friend, Anna, who traveled with us the final week of our tour. She has a small 'point and shoot', thus the slight difference in picture quality. But she did a fantastic job following us around and capturing these moments for us. Thanks Anna!

So, thanks for your requests for a peek into this part of our life. I hope you enjoy!

March 8, 2010

Much of bus life can be described by "Plans vs. Reality". This morning was no different:

Plans: Rise early and drive the 3 hours to Holmes County, Ohio, where we hoped to take Anna to tour some of the unique Amish attractions in the area before our evening service.

Reality: Susanna's birthday was the previous day, so we had a small birthday party in the bus complete with a surprise visit from our cousin whom we haven't seen in years. This resulted in a fun, but very late night for everyone. Thus, we didn't get a very early start to our day.

Plans: Ruth, our early riser, usually makes breakfast. This morning she chooses fresh pancakes -- one of our favorites. Yum!

Reality: With only a half-dozen pancakes fried and ready to go, Dad reminded us that our current generator is out of order, so we can't run the skillet as it'd drain the bus battery. So no pancakes for breakfast.

Plans: As soon as breakfast is over, start driving towards Holmes County.

Reality: The tire on our trailer was flat! Thankfully we're parked at Walmart, so the guys quickly jumped in to get the tire changed.

Meanwhile, since we weren't hitting the road early anyways, Dad pulled out our little generator and hooked it up -- so we could go back to frying our pancakes after all!

Around 8:00 in the mornings we usually have our Bible reading and prayer time. We're currently reading through the book of John together, typically a chapter each day with time for discussion and ideas for practical application.

And then -- breakfast!

One of our favorite uses for yogurt is eating it over pancakes. Drizzle with syrup, pile with yogurt....Mmmmm!

Then, with the tire fixed, we're back on the road for three hours.

We love traveling together.

Usually, travel time is filled with school studies. If everyone gets their work done while the bus is truckin' down the road, then we have more time to get out exercise once the bus arrives at its destination.

School games in the bunk area


In addition to textbooks, we do try to bring along lots of books for reading.

Around 2:00 in the afternoon we arrived at Lehmans -- a unique ol'time general store with a seemingly endless supply of gadgets, tools, and toys. We spent about an hour browsing through their unique inventory.

Literally hundreds of cookie cutters!

And we arrived for our evening service with about 30 minutes to spare. We were thrilled to discover a bulk food store within walking distance, so we ladies took the opportunity to do some shopping.

Then it was time to unload and set up.
We girls usually unload the instruments...

...while the guys transport the heavy stuff.

Tonight we're sharing at our last fundraising banquet for the We Care Prison Ministry. It's been such a blessing to work with their team over the past years. They have such a heart for the Lord and for discipleship.

Setting up equipment

Preparing instruments

Re-stocking the CD table

And then we head back to the bus to get ready for the evening. We usually try to ready ourselves in shifts...the younger girls use the mirrors while we older girls are doing the sound check. But every once in awhile we'll have a time crunch and THEN preparations on the bus get very interesting! The tight quarters often make us laugh, so we've made lots of good memories trying to make 2 mirrors supply the need for 12+ people!

The practical details of life!

The above picture is candidly accurate -- we often have about 3 people working in this space at a time! As I mentioned earlier, we've learned that patience, flexibility, and lots of laughter go a long ways when working in close quarters.

Elizabeth usually works with the younger girls' hair.

And we arrive a bit early for some prayer time with the We Care Staff [sorry-no picture]. We find our places for the meal, and greet the people as they arrive.

It's such a blessing to have this opportunity as a family. Music can be such a powerful way of ministering encouragement and life! As we share together, its truly our prayer that the Lord's Spirit would be at work through each opportunity.

After each service, we always enjoy visiting and fellowshipping with believers before tearing down the sound equipment and packing up. We usually have quite a bit of conversation as we're winding down and --again-- taking shifts through the bus bathroom as we all prepare for the end of the day.

Its a full schedule requiring flexibility, creativity, and a sense of humor.

But what a joy to have met so many of you dear blog readers from across the country. To see how the Lord is working in the hearts of His people all across this nation. We're very blessed. Again, thank you for your prayers, and I hope this gives you a little glimpse into our family's life on the road.

"...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"
Eph 5:19

Monday, March 08, 2010


Last week we shared three wonderful, blissful, happy days with Dan and Bethany in their sweet Virginia home. Did I mention that we had a fantastic time?! In fact, the days flew so quickly that we almost forgot about that fun gadget called the camera. But we did capture a few moments in between all the hugs, games, laughter, and lively chatter.

Literally smothered in hugs!

Time for some baking...mixing up Bethany's famous cookies and fantastic homemade rolls.

Charissa was thrilled to help

Thank you for your hospitality, Dan and Bethany!
We love you!