5.27.2017

Mulching Party!

It is once again that time of year when we weed, edge, and mulch our trees and various landscaping projects. True to Bontrager tradition, one morning last week, we got the load of mulch right before the rain came in. =) Occasionally, on days like that, we call an emergency "all hands on deck!" (pros of having half your kids as your employees) and all go at the project together, completing it in record time and making the pieces fly!
Denver and Josh, removing a dead tree from the orchard. 
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
-Romans 15:13

5.26.2017

Our Divine Calling || Guest Post by Joshua


Our Divine Calling

        Have you ever thought, “If only I had more money, fame, or power, I could get a lot more done for Christ?” It can be a tempting thought because we can use all of these things for good. However, God doesn't need us to have any of these things to accomplish great things for Him. None of us needs to have the influence of Michael Jordan or Muhammed Ali in order to serve Christ. In fact, God delights in using the weak and foolish things of the world for his glory (I Corinthians 1:26-31)

        The Bible records the story of a man who had little money, social standing, or power, yet he was called by Christ the greatest man to have ever lived (Matthew 11:11)

        Who was this man? What was the purpose of his ministry? And how can learn from His life? 

        His name was John the Baptist, and Luke 3:1-2 tells us this about him: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Phillip tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitus, and Lysanius the tetrarch of Abiline, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

        Form Pilate to Herod, the Jews were governed by godless leaders, and this is the world that John lived in. In this environment, surely the high priests would have set the example. Yet sadly, Annas and Caiaphas, the two men who should have been Israel's spiritual leaders, were two of the most vehement opponents of Christ's ministry. One might have expected change to come from the political regime or the religious leaders, but God bypassed those institutions and people to speak to a rough wilderness man. Though John was not a priest or a king, John left behind a greater legacy than any of the religious or political leaders of his day. Why? John left a lasting mark because he was faithful to his calling. 

        Who was this man we know as John the Baptist? Though son of the priest Zacharias, John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, wearing a garment of camel's hair and subsisting on locust and wild honey (Matthew 4:4). John was an unconventional man who probably would not have been well-accepted in our day. 

        What was the purpose of John's ministry? His purpose was “to prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3).” Unlike the religious rulers who sought only to glorify themselves, John laser-focused his ministry on glorifying Christ. John called Jesus “preferred before me,” stating that even he was not worthy to loose the latchet of Jesus' shoes (John 1:27). John had a great following and he could have used that following for his own benefit, but instead he used his platform to point others to Christ. In the face of rejection by the religious and political establishment of his day, John never wavered, but continued to speak the truth–though it would cost him his life.  

        John the Baptist was a humble man whose sole purpose in life was to point others to Christ. How can we follow his example today? We MUST RECOGNIZE and EMBRACE our divine calling. 

        What is our calling? I Peter 2:9 describes our mission in this way: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” That's our calling: to SHOW FORTH His praises. If we know Him, we have a responsibility to make Him known. Do you recognize that calling? And if so, have you embraced it? 

        Those who make an eternal difference on this earth are not those who have the greatest possessions, popularity, or power; those who leave their mark on this world are those who are faithful to their calling. 

        Do you know your calling? Are you faithful to that calling? 

        As children of the king, let us not seek to live for the applause of men, but let us seek to live for the glory of God. 

        Remember, God is not searching for people who are influential: He is looking for people who will simply be faithful. John the Baptist left a lasting impact because he lived a life focused on glorifying Christ. May we be motivated to always do the same. 

{Written by Joshua-20}

5.25.2017

Science Project

I would be the first to admit that Science is not my first love. But after opening "Apologia's Astronomy" a few months ago, I have found a new appreciation for the amazing world God has created.  
The Astronomy book is divided into 14 chapters, one of which describes the incredible characteristics of Mercury.  Each chapter also gives idea for experiments.  
Above is each student's version of Mercury, complete with craters.  If you don't know what a crater on Mars is, you might want to order your own copy of Apologia's "Astronomy".  
And yes, we did have fun doing this project!!

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth the His handywork.  Day unto day uttered speech and night until night sheath knowledge." 
-Psalm 19:1-2


{written by Becky}

5.24.2017

Out and About

There are so many good things about being home in our Iowa place. One of those is reconnecting with all of our Iowa family + friends! We love them all so much and soak up the time to see all the Iowans again!
Above, Allison + I drove to Des Moines (end of April) for a day with several of our aunts + cousins, and our grandma. It is a yearly "Bontrager ladies" tradition to go there for garage sales for a day with whoever is able to come. We had such a party!
Olive Garden for a late lunch! It rained all day and we were so cold! I'm afraid they definitely lost money on us that day, with all the soup we ate from the unlimited soup + salad choice. =) Such good times!
Our church recently started up a mini orchestra to accompany the choir and congregational singing, and Liz + Hudson have been loving the opportunity to be a part of it.
Allison loved spending several mornings with these children, so their mother could go out for a few hours of quiet time.

Pancheros for lunch and then closet makeover shopping with our mother dear!
While we are speaking of Allison...she is invaluable these days at the hotel.
Public Relations Expert, Manager of All Projects, Marketing Director, and Hiring/Firing Queen, amongst other titles. =) Her social personality makes her perfect for her job, and she loves nothing better than doing everything she can to serve + bless her customers. The other morning she took some time to chat with this gentleman, a driver for the Amish, who was staying at the hotel.
Dad + Elizabeth, out on the town (Longhorn) for some quality father/daughter time.
 Several of us participated in singing/playing for the theme song, "I Will Arise", for our churches annual missions conference.

Mom + Rebecca spent an afternoon at Grandma's, with Rebecca learning a little more cross stitch from the pro. =)
Laundry time at the hotel! Allison took a few minutes at the end of her spring cleaning shift to assist our manager's wife with folding the ever-continuing pile of sheets + towels!

5.23.2017

Spring Company!

We were delighted to have a number of guests in and out of our home in April + May. Here are several "company time" snapshots from a few of the visits!
Our cousin + her little family came to visit! (read all about that on my blog, here)
Liz was ecstatic to spend half a day with one of her best friends, who lives several hours away. Liz' friends' father was in the area on business so he dropped his daughter off here for awhile. They had such fun!
This girl was one of Joshua's fellow contestants in the Bible Bee for several years. Now she is married and has a baby, and their family visited us while they were out here in Iowa for a wedding.

Back when "things" were starting up, one of their sons asked my sister, "So, if this works out...does that make our families in-laws?" =)
Of course it is just the one getting married that gets the in-laws, but we tell Carson we are happy to share his in-laws with him, as they are just the sweetest ever. =)
Mom spending time with her little great-nephew. 
Work continues on the farm, even when we have guests, but you'd be amazed how much good conversation can be had whilest cooking, cleaning, gardening, and yes, even tearing apart a tractor with grease flying. =)
Tractor time and hauling manure with Mitchell + Co!
Two other cousins were traveling through Iowa with their crew on their way west for a work project, and stopped in late to spend the night. We love random and spur-of-the-moment opportunities to practice hospitality like that! Sadly, the time was short, but the sunrise chat was greatly enjoyed by all.
Story time with the little people.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17

5.22.2017

Website Store Free Shipping!

Good morning Friends! With the ending of our recent giveaway, we wanted to give a little deal to those of y'all who didn't win. This deal is free shipping STOREWIDE on all USA orders placed within the next week! 
This deal will run today-next Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day. Head on over to our store and place your order now! We don't run sales very often (maybe 1-2x per year) so this is your chance to take advantage of the free shipping and purchase our new album, or stock up on some of our previous albums that you may not have!
Thanks for shopping with us!

Babies in the House!

(note: whoops, I thought this post was scheduled to publish on Saturday morning! We just returned home from a short wkend in Ohio, and I discovered this morning that there was somehow a glitch and it never posted after all! So y'all get two posts today, then! Sorry about that!)

We recently loved the opportunity to watch some of our favorite little ones-our pastor's two youngest daughters. Babies in the house is one of our favorite things ever, and these are tiding us over til the grand babies start coming! =)
I took Rachel out one morning (still in her jammies!) to meet the newest arrival on the farm-a baby calf born just that morning.
Liz adored every opportunity to entertain this little gal!
What a smile. =)
Painting nails is always a favorite activity!