Friday, July 29, 2016

4th of July

We got back from the camping trip Saturday night and right away started preparations for Seward's annual Fourth of July celebration.  Due to various responsibilities and commitments, this year was not quite as typical as previous years. But it was still a wonderful day!

In the morning there is always the bubble gum blowing contest and apple pie eating contest. Susanna was not planning on entering but (thanks to a certain brother) she was selected to compete.

Nathanael got in on the pie eating part -- and as you can see, was eager to eat his piece.
 He almost won his round!

Alan and Rachel were able to make it up this year and little Kendrick did not lack for attention!

I think he enjoyed his uncles!

We sang as we do every year at 2 pm then hurried over to main street to watch the parade.

Charissa is taking violin lessons when we are home and was absolutely delighted to walk through the parade with several of the other violin students!

Of course, the nieces and nephews were all excited about the candy!

After the parade we grabbed a bite for supper and then headed over to the large park where they host the annual fireworks display.

Every year they have a band play from 8-10pm, when it's dark enough for them to shoot off the fireworks. We were honored to be asked to do the music this year. 

Setting up in such a big outdoor setting made it a bit different than our usual setup. But God answered prayers and everything ended up going smoothly.

Over the years we have made it a priority to pray before each concert. We do music as a family with the goal of pointing people to Christ and we have found that prayer is a foundation for doing that. Whether it is in family devotions, our personal quiet time or right before we go up to sing, prayer has a way of setting our focus and gives us a clear reminder that it is not about us but about Him!

It was a very relaxed setting with people sitting all over the park lawn. Playing Frisbee. Sharing picnics. Playing on the park equipment. Talking with friends.

After about two hours of music, the sun was down and it was officially time to watch the fireworks!

One of my favorite parts of the Fourth of July is sitting in the cool evening with family, hearing the powerful explosions and then seeing the beauty and uniqueness of each beautiful firework.

What a day to remember the founding of this nation.

"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 Chronicles 7:14

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Just so ya'll know, we will not be able to get Ryan and Ruth's love story posted on the blog before the wedding this Saturday. We are looking forward to sharing pictures of from this week with you later and greatly appreciate prayers for the wedding. Have a wonderful weekened!!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Camping Trip

For a long time our family has been talking about how much fun it would be to go on a family camping trip. We camped together years ago but most of the younger ones don't remember those experiences. Which means it was long past due.

This spring one of the irrigation systems we installed was for a farmer in South Dakota. Now, I know there is amazing beauty in every state in the nation, but I never really thought about the beauty of South Dakota until we tackled the job on this man's property. It was breathtakingly beautiful! While we were working there we agreed that this place would be the perfect spot for a camping trip. When the kind farmer caught wind of our conversation, he was kind enough to invite us to set up camp on the lovely beach area on his property. 

We traveled home from the job and told Dad and Mom about the opportunity. There was an instant investigation of our summer schedule to see if we could squeeze in a family trip sometime in July.  With Andrew and Kori moving to Florida the beginning of July, the wedding the end of July and a host of commitments in-between it was settled to go the weekend before the Fourth.

Thankfully our schedule ended up working out and the trip was a go!

We hit the road a little later than planned on Thursday afternoon and those of us who had worked at the farm before continually reminded everyone else that yes, the place was beautiful and yes, it was totally worth the drive. 

We pulled in just as the sun was setting which made for an exciting -- but thankfully not too eventful -- setting up of the campsite. Elizabeth put together an incredible menu and we had a lot of the food prep done beforehand. We were quickly able to have a big supper which we cooked right over the fire. Salmon, a veggie skillet, stuffed mushrooms and a fruit cobbler at 9 pm perfectly hit the spot!

After a slumber party and a good nights sleep we woke up, unzipped the tent door to discover this view. Everyone agreed. It was perfect!

It was then time to get the activities started. The guys got a fire going and we set out and cooked the breakfast food.

Hello pancakes, bacon and eggs! Mmmmmmm!

Listening to the birds sing, the water gently lapping the shore, the fire crackling, the food sizzling, and looking around at the ones you love was enough to make your heart burst. There are so many times that we rush through life and take for granted the rich blessings that our heavenly Father gives us. That morning was a special time to just pause life and praise God.

Of course, what is a camping trip without a little music?! After family devotions we sang for a while and tried to work up some new music for the upcoming summer concerts.

Then it was time to hit the lake!

Daddy is a superb boat driver. I don't know if we had more fun riding the tube or if he had more fun trying to get us to fly off the tube!

I will say that by the end of the day there had been several pretty impressive looking moments with people flying in the air and an empty tube behind the boat.

Back to the campsite for another campfire lunch before hitting the water again.

This time several enjoyed the skiing!

While others enjoyed the water and just floated by the shore.

Since someone forgot the fishing gear we girls, in a moment of chilling on the beach, tried to be resourceful by using what we had to make a fishing pole. But by the time we got the amazing rod in the water the boat came back and we didn't have time to really try out our experiment. I like to think that we would have been successful in catching a great big fish!

For supper we enjoyed the traditional camping meal. Hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and s'mores! Only our s'mores had a twist: Our family loves cookie dough so before we left home we made a batch and brought it along raw. When it was time for the s'mores, we brought out the dough and wrapped it around a marshmallow. We then wrapped the dough in tinfoil and cooked it over the fire until it was cooked to your liking.  You can then put in in graham crackers with extra chocolate or just eat the melted goodness as is.

Just like at home someone has to do the dishes!

Nathanael was almost always in or as close to the water as was possible.

Even though the previous week had been scorching hot, the days we went camping were actually very cool! Thankfully, the water was warm and the campfire helped keep us toasty.

Friday night brought quite the adventure... During supper it started to drizzle and so we quickly enjoyed our supper and the fire before popping into the tents to enjoy a good nights sleep. Only to discover that the tent that many of us were sleeping in was not quite water proof and several of the sleeping bags were totally wet! With the wind blowing and the raining falling we snuggled up and fell asleep trying to ignore the wetness. By the time we woke up the rain had stopped but a few  people that slept in the wrong spot ended up feeling like they slept in a swimming pool all night. I guess now we know that tent doesn't work well with water.

After a wonderful breakfast which may have included a few s'mores, it was time to enjoy a few more moments on the water before heading home.

It was overcast and super breezy but we don't go camping very often. So it was onto the tubes! The water was so much warmer than the air that it was actually nicer on the tube than on in the boat!

It was such a special treat to have Andrew and Kori with us!!!

Then it was time to load everything up and head back home.

I'm so grateful for the beauty of God's creation and for the special moments that we can enjoy it together.

"O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, 
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!"
Psalms 8:1

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Couples Shower

For most of our married siblings we've enjoyed hosting a Pampered Chef shower to help the couple stock their kitchen with all sorts of helpful tools and gadgets. So, with the wedding soon approaching, we girls put our heads together to plan and prepare for a shower for Ryan and Ruth.

Since our family is spreading out and juggling different schedules, we were especially grateful that the Lord worked it out for everyone to join us for the weekend. Many hands make light work, as Dad always reminds us, so preparations for the shower were a fun teamwork project. 

It was a special time having our entire family together. Including our Grandparents! During the shower some watched the grandkids, some made the food, some did the talking, some led the games and some sampled the food.

Part of doing a Pampered Chef party is having the couple make a dish that everyone can enjoy later. Ruth and Ryan did pretty good!

During the demonstration, they shared the story of how God brought them together. They are still hoping to write it up for you to read sometime before the wedding. But since it is not quite the first thing on their priority list it hasn't happened yet. Stay tuned!

35 years and counting for this special couple.

Of course, what is a shower without games?! Alan led this one which brought a lot of laughs and participation. Alan would read off an item that the group of 12 volunteers had to find in the crowd before racing back to their seat. While they were gone someone would remove a chair so that when the players came back one wouldn't have a place to sit and would be out of the game.

As each player got kicked out he had to draw a paper from a hat that told them a small thing they had to do for the couple sometime in the next year. After the game was over and the room settled back down we enjoyed a table full of food. Apparently we enjoyed the food and fellowship so much that we didn't get any pictures of that part of the evening. 

Thank you to each person who came and had a part in filling up Ryan and Ruth's new kitchen!

All because two people fell in love...

"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 10:34-35