Friday, August 28, 2015

Minnesota Concert

Earlier this month we had the privilege of sharing a joint concert with the talented Kingery Family. After a day of volleyball and fellowship in their home, we had a blast pulling out the instruments and sharing our love for music & Jesus Christ together in the local community.

Their son-in-law so graciously captured the evening on camera -- which is a huge blessing since its always a challenge to find concert photos. You can check out his photography website here.

Every time we step on stage is a gift. What a privilege to lift our voices to the Creator of Life. Doesn't it fill you with awe to know that the God of the universe desires your praise and adoration...He pursues a relationship with YOU?! He first loved us, weak, sinful humans.

And it's not simply on stage where He loves to hear praise. It's at our kitchen sink. Driving in the car. Working in the summer sun.

Praise lifts our hearts beyond our circumstances, connecting with the Source of all life.

What a joy!

Sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation
from day to day.  

Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples. 

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; 
He is to be feared above all gods. 

Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, 
Give to the Lord glory and strength.

Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courts.

Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him all the earth.

Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns;
The world also is firmly established, 
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously."

For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness, 
And the peoples with His truth.

Verses from Psalm 96

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Beets and More Beets

The last several weeks have consisted of multi-day ministry tours in the midwestern states (Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin), with a few stops at home, giving us just enough time to harvest our multitude of garden produce. Each year our garden is a bit different. Some years the tomatoes are prolific. Other years its the cucumbers. This year our beets really went to town!

Honestly, some of us are beet fans. Others aren't. But when they come in by the wagon load, you roll up your sleeves and start canning! 

Just one of our many wagon loads.

Our cucumbers have also been producing in abundance. 

Pulling the wagon down the rows. 
Being gone for much of the summer, weed control has been a challenge, but thankfully everything is producing well in spite of the occasional neglect. 

Washing the beets.

Cooking and peeling them

Hot summer teamwork!


And finally a water bath. Thus far we've canned over 150 quarts of beets, in addition to making beet chips and exploring every creative outlet we can think of!

What is your favorite way to use garden excess!?!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Storybook Theater

One of our favorite aspects of the Lake Itasca Family Music Festival is the annual Children's Storybook Theater. For several years now we've shared two 1-hour sessions with songs, Bible verses, and a continuing drama featuring the life of a devoted Christian. 

This year we chose Johann Sebastian Bach. Although his music is world-famous, we knew little about his private life and testimony. It was time to do some research! Ruth wrote and directed the drama after searching out many great insights from the life of this great man. 

Did you know: 
-- Bach was actually of Hungarian decent, but his great, great grandfather moved the Bach family to Germany in order to escape the Christian persecution.  
-- Bach was orphaned at the age of 10.  
-- Bach fixed & cleaned organs as his first out-of-school job at the age of 17. 
-- Bach had 20 children, unfortunately only 9 surviving to adulthood.  
-- Bach obtained his first copy of the Bible at the age of 48.  
-- After being encouraged to write operas in order to gain fame & a better position, Bach wrote the Passion of St. Matthew. It is the piece which Mandelsson played to popularize Bach once again. It is the same piece which has started revival in Japan.  

Matthias & Hannah led the music.

So many enthusiastic singers! 

We were thrilled and grateful for several Nebraska friends (the Stangl & Kopsa families) who came along side us and added immensely to the drama! 

The Kopsa children adding their music to the drama.

What's a musical drama!

The geographical guide to Bach's life.

Ellie Stangl was our master narrator.

Bach's childhood.

Teenage Bach in conversation with a friend.

Bach as a man & with his children.

"The aim and final end of all music should be 
none other than the 
glory of God 
and the refreshment of the soul. 
If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music 
but a diabolical bawling and twanging." 
Johann Sebastian Bach

Friday, August 14, 2015

Festival Moments

Photo Credit
Excitement was high last week as we drove into our familiar parking spot on the Lake Itasca Family Music Festival grounds. Volunteers were scurrying around preparing food, staging, ticket details, and dozens of other tasks.

On Friday afternoon the vans, campers, buses, and motorhomes began to pour in to the campgrounds. The weekend had officially begun!

Here are a few random photos to give you a glimpse of our weekend:

Last minute touches to our background props for the Children's Storybook Theater.

Smiles from Minnesota! 

Several of our friends from Nebraska made the trip to the festival, too. We're so grateful because they jumped in to help with all the acting and costuming for the Theater. We also had great times sharing meals & conversations together. 

Getting set up for the Storybook Theater 

Last minute practicing for the drama before the festival began. 

They moved the Storybook theater to the largest building on the grounds this year. It was an added bonus of a large stage with great seating/viewing for the children -- but also added the challenge of working to adequately mic the actors. It was good to have time for rehearsals on the stage! 

Photo credit
Matthias helped to lead the dobro workshop as part of the many instrument, vocal, and discipleship workshops that were offered during the festival.  

Stephen helped with the mandolin workshop. 

It was great to see so many young musicians bring their instruments along to the workshops to practice the tips, techniques, and 'licks' they were being taught. 

Photo Credit

Stay tuned for our final post on the festival featuring the annual Children's Storybook Theater! 
More to come...

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
Hebrews 10:24-25

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Festival Weekend

What a tremendous weekend!

As those of you who take part in the annual Lake Itasca Family Music Festival already know -- the days are filled with such encouragement, adventure, great music, and spiritual challenge. And for the rest of our readers: If you're looking for a great family weekend, please consider northern Minnesota into your plans for 2016!

This year's festival was certainly no exception! We're still downloading and sorting through our stack of photos from the weekend, but thanks to the amazing Eric Vest Photography, we're posting a quick sneak preview here.

We were privileged to participate in several different aspects of the festival: The Children's Storybook Theater, instrument workshops, and a family discipleship session by Dad. We have many photos to come on these activities soon!

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord ministers to our own hearts as we purpose to serve. Yes, it's exciting to get on that stage. No, we don't always 'feel' like it.

But there's something unexplainable about singing praise to the King of kings, the Creator of life. It tunes our hearts. It re-aligns our focus. It gives us yet another glimpse into the faithfulness & love of our Great God.

"Come, Thou fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace,

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Latest Project!

IT'S HERE!!! We're beyond excited to announce the debut of our latest music project, Sing Praise. Featuring original songs, family favorites, and timeless hymns, we trust this collection will encourage and lift your heart in praise to our great God. He alone is worthy! 

Spread the word and order today:
Instant downloads also available on our website.

"I will be glad and rejoice in You, 
I will sing praise
to Your Name, O Most High."
Psalm 9:1