10.18.2017

Meet Taylor!

Meet Lincoln Taylor, the seventh-born in the Bontrager Family! Taylor is fifteen years old and is the thoughtful, serious, quiet young man of the family. People often ask why he is called by his middle name instead of his first? Answer: mom liked the flow of "Lincoln Taylor" but wanted to call him "Taylor" most. Hence: his middle name is what he goes by.

One of Taylor's most obvious accomplishments from the past year has been his increasing height. He has almost set the record for the Bontrager that has grown the most in 2017, and he's not done yet! He might end up as the tallest of the boys! Of all the sons in the family, Taylor probably has the most farming in his blood, and he LOVES our dairy! With the recent marriage of his three eldest brothers and the shifting of some of the responsibilities, Taylor got the label "herd/dairy manager" and he was beyond excited about that. He loves making decisions and planning/organizing different things on the farm, and he is becoming very knowledgable in these areas as well. He knows all of our cows by number and scores. Taylor also took over calf registration when Mitchell moved out. 

Taylor's passion for the past six years has been the National Bible Bee. However, after his win last year of the senior division, he was ineligible to compete again, so this year he has taken a much slower paced involvement. He is coaching Hudson + Rebecca and also plans to volunteer at the National Competition in November. Taylor loves time in the outdoors, and sports, hunting, and camping are a few of his favorites! He has gotten two deer in previous years and is hoping for another one during shotgun season! Most of Taylor's spare time these days can be found practicing new licks and runs on the banjo. (He LOVES music!) The banjo player shoes were big ones to fill when Mitchell quit the band this spring, but Taylor has practiced incessantly and all that hard work from the past few years of faithful practice has paid off! He still plays bass on about half of our songs, and has added banjo on the other half. He is also the only Bontrager currently in high school. He stays pretty busy with all that!

Most of all, Taylor is a dedicated soul-winner and tells people about Jesus everywhere He goes. He is a great inspiration to the rest of us to share the JOY of Christ with a lost and dying world! His big heart and faithfulness in the small things add so much to our home, and we are sure thankful that God gave us a Taylor!

10.14.2017

Fall Tour Recap

This past Sunday night, we wrapped up our ten-day tour through Indiana/Michigan/Ohio. This tour marked the completion of five and half months of touring in 2017 for our family band. We are definitely excited about spending the rest of the year off the road and close to home!

It was quite the trip, with a number of firsts and lasts.
We got to sing at a few of our favorite venues, that are yearly traditions...
And we sang at about half a dozen new venues that we had never been at before!
It was Cassidy's first tour on board as a Bontrager, and it was Chelsy's last tour with us.
The weather ranged from COLD to HOT. And a little of everything in between!
We met some dear new souls, and saw many old friends as well.
Such a treat for Allison to get to play with her fellow fiddler + hero! This guy was her inspiration to play violin, all the way back when she was three, and it is pretty cool to hear them play together now, twenty years later!
Supper in the parking lot with Shipshe friends. We sat on chairs and the backs of vehicles and whatever worked! Love these impromptu meetings we get to have across the miles.
With these four at the helm, it is pretty much a sure thing that the comedy aspect will only be increasing. =) They had the crowd in stitches!

We were blessed with a quick stop at the Ark Encounter! What an AMAZING place!

Inside the Ark.
Making music together...doing what we love.
Time with the cousins, uncles, and aunts is always the biggest treat! We loved spending a little time one afternoon with moms nephew and his wife and son. Can't wait to meet their baby twin girls next time, Lord willing! =)
Rebecca reading stories to little cousin Jackson.
Morning devotions during a quick visit with some dear friends.
Loved the opportunity to do dinner together with these friends! The guy running the salad bar told me, "You all must never have a quiet moment with this family!" I didn't know which one of our three families he was referring to but I figured I was quite justified in saying "you're right!!" for all of us. =) We had one loud and lovely table! Such good memories!

10.11.2017

Meet Chelsy!

  
Meet Chelsy Renee, the firstborn in our family. Chelsy is twenty-six years old and the "leader of the pack". She loves being the oldest (even if it has been the guinea pig position!) and takes her role as eldest sister very seriously.

Chelsy thrives on organization, writing lists, and getting things done! She loves the many opportunities that come her way for helping with planning friends/siblings weddings, cooking for events/conferences/parties, and working in leadership or behind the scenes for various projects. Up until just this month, she was employed with the family band as secretary/musician/instructor and worked in many different capacities with that. Her job included coordinating with our graphic designer/webmaster for new designs, advertising, + albums, answering all of the emails, running the blog, and working with our different tour venues in concert promotion. She also took the majority of our candid pictures, shipped all music orders, and responded to emails. Some of her favorite things that she got to do as part of her work were arranging music, teaching everyone their harmony parts, and putting together the wardrobes for our concert outfits. Occasional opportunities to help out with special projects on the farm and at the hotel, added some fun diversity! This fall she was in charge of the canning and as a result we now have many quarts of everything from pickles to salsa to pasta sauce, lining our can room shelves.

As you may have gathered from her recent engagement post, her life has been changing quite a bit this past year! She actually just quit her job in order to have time to plan her wedding and get ready for a new home. (a few of her newly discovered interests are carpentry + interior design! =)) Her personal blog has taken a bit of a backseat at different seasons of her life over the past few years, but she still loves to write there and get up on that soap box from time to time, and she plans to continue that in the future! A few of her main loves are theater (acting + costume design), fashion, music, coffee, journaling, and reading.

Chelsy adds lots of energy to our family and she is always up for adventure. We will miss her so much when she moves to Kansas, but are so excited for her upcoming wedding + marriage!

10.09.2017

God Is Blessing Our Family With Another Son!

We know just what you all are thinking- "this can't be possible to have another wedding announcement already, after three weddings last month?!?!" But it is very true! Our eldest daughter is engaged! 

Her boyfriend, John Maxwell, proposed to her at a gorgeous setting, out on the edge of one of our hay fields, beside the woods, and she said "YES"!!
Her ring is absolutely stunning! John designed it himself and it is one incredible ring.
Our entire family loves John and he fits in so well with us. We are THRILLED to be gaining another brother, and so excited to have our very own Chels marrying such a good man! They are having so much fun together planning their December 30th wedding, and we can't wait for another celebration! 

"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him."
-Isaiah 64:4

10.06.2017

September Snapshots from Home

September felt like a very short month to most of us! People have been asking us how the "new normal" feels and we respond that we don't know yet because we haven't been home enough to find out! =) 

The boys + their wives all returned home from their respective honeymoons, and enjoyed settling into their "new normal" of running their own households + each couple's individual work schedules. We enjoyed the opportunity to all get together one night for a cookout back at the campsite, (above) 
and sure do love our growing family! 
Backtracking a bit back to the very beginning of the month now with this picture...having so many of mom's family visit for the weddings was SO FUN! We got to host a houseful of them for Sunday lunch, after the weddings.
September means fall chopping time! The guys worked diligently in spite of breakdowns and technical difficulties. Getting that silo filled with chopped corn for the winter is no small feat, but sure a good feeling to have finished!
These two decided they wanted to make us all pancakes one morning. Bless their hearts!
Our tomatoes continued producing, so mom invited the new daughters over to learn how to can salsa and take it home to their men! So so fun to work together on projects like these!
Taking three people out of the equation at one time really changes things. Also having a mostly adult household really changes things! On this particular Saturday, it came super time and the above three were the only people home. This has been happening more and more and while it feels very strange at first, we just roll with it and of course have a great time, no matter how many or few people are there! We whipped up a homemade pizza and ONLY NEEDED ONE. That felt odd-I can't ever remember having just made one pizza before! =) 
I went out hunting with Hudson for an afternoon. 
It was great quality sibling time and Hudson got his first deer of the season! 
Rebecca turned ten and we celebrated with typical Bontrager birthday bash, of course!

Iowa sunsets are SO breathtakingly beautiful! Allison got to enjoy this one at work one evening.
A wonderful reminder that we need so often!

10.04.2017

Meet Hudson!

Meet Hudson Reed, the ninth born in the Bontrager Family! At eleven-almost twelve-years of age, Hudson is the "teddy bear" of the family and is always full of hugs and smiles for anyone in need of them. 

Hudson is at that stage where he is growing out of a little boy into a little man. He loves doing all in his power to keep up with his older brothers and being right there with them, chipping right in with whatever they are doing. He might still be the smallest of all the guys but he still gives it 100% in work and sports to make up for the size difference with extra determination and grit. =) He is all boy and loves guns, knives, wrestling, and sports, to name a few. The biggest highlight of his fall thus far has been the doe that he shot all by himself last week! After quite a number of disappointing hunts, his excitement over his first deer of the season was pretty great to watch! We all rejoiced with him. The hunting thing seems to be in his blood.:)

Hudson's main jurisdiction on the farm is feeding the calves and he does an excellent job with that. Nearly every afternoon that we are home finds him out on the farm for around an hour, mixing bottles, scooping grain, and bedding down the calves. He is in 6th grade in school and told me that if math was the only subject he had to do, then he would really like school. =) He definitely is motivated to get studies finished quickly and move on with his day! Quality time is his thing and he lights up when he hears about an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with a family member. This is his fifth year to do The Bible Bee, and he has made it to the national competition every year. Hudson absolutely loves everything about nationals and he thrives on the diligence, dedication, and competitiveness required to compete well! He has taken violin + piano lessons faithfully for the past four years, but quit piano the beginning of this year to pursue a new instrument-the bass guitar! With some shifting in the family band, the position for "second bass" became available, and Hudson jumped on it. Hours and hours and HOURS of practice later...he now plays bass on about eight of our songs and does a great job of it. Hudson is also known as our most energetic band member on stage-he likes to keep things peppy!

Hudson's cheerful personality and tender heart are a big blessing to our family, and we couldn't do without him! 

9.28.2017

Mitchell + Bryn || 9.2.2017

Today we are thrilled to share with y'all a few of the professional pictures from Mitchell + Bryn's wedding! Their photographer (SarahSmithStudio) did an incredible job capturing their day with such amazing portraits. 

It was a beautiful, beautiful day. God brought Mitchell + Bryn together in such an amazing way, and they are truly a match made in heaven. Their day was so centered on Jesus and what He had done in their lives. We hope you enjoy sharing in the day, in this little way, through these pictures.
Hair + makeup time for the bridal party ladies...

Reading their letters to each other.
They decided not to see each other until the ceremony, so the very first look they had was when Bryn walked down the aisle.
The stage decor.
Carson helping Mitch with his tie.
Sweet sister chat right before the ceremony. Rebecca absolutely adores Bryn and they have a very special relationship.
The bride + the mothers
Sweet prayer time
Mitchell + Mom
Last minute dress inspection!
Waiting, and waiting...
A full church house, ready for the wedding to begin!
Hudson walked our grandma in. 
Mitchell, welcoming everyone + giving the gospel at the beginning of the wedding.
The parents, lighting the candles.
Cutest sight of the whole wedding! Rebecca was the junior bridesmaid and Bryn's baby nephew, Logan, was the junior junior groomsman. She pulled him in- sleeping-in a wagon. It was adorable!
Bryn + her father
Bryn's father, opening the wedding with a welcome and prayer
Our dear father shared a challenge, per Mitchell's request
Love this!
First prayer as a married couple, after lighting the unity candle and signing the marriage license.
View from the stage
FIRST KISS EVER!
Family celebration all around!
The bridal party
Handsome groom + groomsmen

All the ladies!
The growing Bontrager family!
Three very happy newlywed couples. =)
So beautiful
This little miniature groomsman was a trooper literally ALL DAY except for this moment in which he had apparently just had enough of everything. =)
Brothers
Mitchell + Bryn had a very delicious taco bar for their reception meal. 
Cutting the cake time!
Their reception was held in the town square, which is just a block down from the church. The weather was perfect and it was a beautiful celebration!
Nine of mom's siblings and/or siblings' spouses came from Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, + Florida, to attend the weddings. We were so blessed to have them + a whole host of cousins as well!
This is so them. =) Joking about something, apparently, right before the bouquet toss. 

And then off they drove...!
We hope you enjoyed these pictures from Mitchell + Bryn's special day! If you missed the livestream, you can watch the wedding video here. Stay tuned for Mitchell + Bryn's love story, coming sometime next month!

"This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."
Psalm 118:23

Note: For those of you that have asked about the bridesmaids dresses, please visit Chelsy's post here for the links + details!