8.27.2015

Stoltzfus Family Reunion 2015

(above picture taken overlooking the vineyards + Keuka lake, 
Penn Yan, NY, on the backside of my uncle's farm)

What a wonderful weekend it was, our Stoltzfus family reunion that was held back the beginning of this month. How much I love these people...they are such an amazing tribe + I feel just beyond blessed to be a part of such an incredible extended family.

The weekend festivities kicked off on Friday evening + went through Sunday. My uncle + aunt graciously opened up their beautiful farm to host the reunion. There was lots of food, laughter, games, fun, conversations, swimming, and all sorts of other good things.

My grandma is one of the world's best cooks, and she passed on the love to all seven of her daughters. We eat like KINGS at our reunions, I'm telling you. AMAZING FOOD.

We had about 75 people in attendance. There were 21 people who were unable to make it for various reasons (work, travel, babies, etc) and they were sorely missed! Even in a big bunch like this, each person is special + unique and definitely leaves a hole when they aren't there!
We especially missed the hole that cousin Michael left-it was our first time together as extended family since his funeral, and his smile + jolly laugh were definitely missed. How thankful we are that it is only "goodbye for a short time" until we are all together again one day in the grandest reunion of all! As my uncle (Michael's father) so truly said on Sunday morning, "The important thing isn't if we will all be together again here, it is will we all be together again THERE?" It was such a beautiful reminder to stay focused not on life here, but on that most important thing---knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Savior so that one day we can all be together in heaven!

Just a little background on the Stoltzfus Family....
It all started with these two dear people whom we all love so very much: Grandpa + Grandma.
They are just the sweetest and I'm so thankful for them!

They had seven daughters and two sons. (pictured above in order of age, from left to right, oldest to youngest)
Those nine children currently live in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, + Colorado.
And those nine children currently have a total of 84 descendants, which includes spouses, children, children's spouses, and children's children. There are also three more great-grandchildren on the way! By the time those three babies have all arrived, there will be a total of ninety-eight of us! And by the time those babies have all arrived, there will most likely be another cousin preparing to get married, or another of the married grandchildren expecting a baby, which means we will most likely hit the 100 mark before too long here. =)

All set up and waiting for the multitude to arrive!
Our uncle + aunt have a pool behind their house and this was the place to be for the little cousins!
Liz + Elise
Peaches are the hot thing going in NY. These were delish-and definitely better because they were enjoyed with cousins!
Grandpa + Uncle Aaron, getting the full scoop on cousin Keith's new car.
Cousin Keith brought along these brilliant aprons for the cooks to wear. We had many laughs and funny stories over these aprons!
With so many people, there was lots of food to make + eat! The menu was planned out beforehand and the food bought/prepared, and each family took a turn preparing and cleaning up after one of the meals.
As you can see, there was much work to be done to prepare for the reunion. =)
 Poor Nic. Looks like one of the aunties took him (or his apron) literally and left a little tell-tale lipstick mark. =)
Did I mention food? We had the most amazing spreads for every meal. 
(huge shoutout to the aunts who planned the menus + put everything together-thankyou!!)
Courtney, Rebs, + Nic
All weekend there were these several pairs of nerd glasses floating around and we got good use out of them! Some people obviously looked more natural than others. =)
                           With mothers like this, is it any surprise that we aren't quite normal? =)
Cooking up eggs for breakfast.
Green bean snapping party time.
Lots and lots of time sitting and chatting....
Swing rides with the little cousins
Me with my newest cousin, the youngest reunion attendee.
The big yard was home to many games over the weekend.
Another AMAZING meal....
Liz, Sarah Liz, + Elise
Harrison + Mitchell
Football time! A cousin favorite!
One afternoon a group of us sat around and listened to the love story of the latest family lovebirds. What a sweet story-full of God's faithfulness with a good dose of drama + humor thrown in there as well that kept us all howling with laughter. =) They are getting married this Saturday and we are with them in spirit even though we can't be there in person!
There is a person underneath all of those beach towels, believe it or not.
Wes, you are such a good sport. =) The little ladies all adore you for good reason!
Candy toss time!
Volleyball!
Cousin Brad smoked some legendary brisket one night. 
It was so tender, flavorful, and just plain incredible.

I really don't think babies get much cuter than this one. =) She got lots of love over the weekend!
On Saturday night we all sat around and listened as the aunts and uncles asked grandpa + grandma questions about their lives growing up.
It was such a special time. We ended with singing their favorite song together, "Precious Memories".
Campfires every night were a treat + the favorite spot to be. 
Only Aunt Esther would bring glow in the dark jewelry for the littles. She was the favorite aunt that night. =)
Breakfast time! Fruit, muffins, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, shoofly pie, more muffins, cereal, fresh blueberries + peaches, and more fruit.
Rook...another cousin favorite!
Conversations with Grandpa + Grandma....
With this charmer...
Our Sunday morning worship service.
There was a little impromptu guest appearance by the "Notes of Hope" quartet. (moms family grew up singing together and four of her siblings had their own group)
Needless to say these four hadn't sung together for a while and didn't think they could do a song.
But we convinced them they could. =)
The ones who started it all....
All gathered around at the end, joining hands, and singing "Blest Be the Tie That Binds".
Mom with her Daddy. =)
Everyone says there is no way they are old enough to have ten kids. And I agree. =)
More FOOD....
Love these ladies so much!
The four Rebeccas!
And...an updated picture of our family!

I feel sometimes like I say it all the time, but I really cannot say too often how thankful I am for the blessing of godly family. I so often take it for granted, but it is so precious, and I am everlastingly grateful for these people who encourage + challenge me in the Lord.
I'm thankful for a godly atmosphere in which to enjoy wholesome activities for a weekend.
I'm thankful for the legacy of prayer before meals.
I'm thankful for the heritage of four part harmony, accapella music.
I'm thankful for the many conversations I had with various relatives over the weekend, in which we shared triumphs, struggles, growth, and truth with one another.
I'm thankful for the blessing of godly grandparents who taught their children to work hard, play hard, and love the Lord and others, and for parents who in turned continued in passing that down to me and my siblings.
I'm thankful for songs like "Precious Memories", "In the Sweet By and By", "Blest Be the Tie That Binds", "Bless the Lord Oh My Soul", and "Majesty", that were sung straight from the heart by a group that meant what they were singing.
I'm thankful for grandparents who believed that children are a blessing. Because if they would've stopped with two, our tribe would be a whole lot smaller, and I wouldn't be here!
I'm thankful for grandparents who put God first, who spend time in the Word everyday, and who pray every morning for each of their children and their children's families by name.
I'm so thankful for these, my Stoltzfus relatives. Y'all are the best and I love you!

"Happy is that people that is in such a case: 
yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord."
Psalm 144.:15

{posted by Chelsy}