Becky's Stoltzfus Sibling Reunion

I (Becky) am so blessed to have godly parents who have been an example for me in so very many areas of life-loving and serving God, reading His Word everyday, attending church regularly, sacrificially giving to those in need, living lives of honesty and integrity, embracing the gift of children, being faithful to each other in marriage (can I hear a cheer for 65 years of commitment to their marriage???), and praying everyday for their family.  FYI, they are not perfect but in some very key areas, they have been successful.  I am grateful for they blessing they are to me and my extended family.
About a year ago, some of my siblings began planning for a special weekend retreat for only my parents, their children, and the spouses.  Believe me, this was not an easy feat to find a weekend that worked for all of us.  It came with some degree or another of sacrifice for all of us, but it was worth every effort that we made.  We met on a September Friday evening at a beautiful, spacious, barn home in PA, complete with 10 bedrooms-one for each sibling/spouse and one for my parents.
Here are the parents-I know that they not only are still in love but are also still enjoying the journey!!
It is so fun to see them laugh!
We actually spent quite a bit of time simply enjoying conversation with each other.  Here all the men seem mesmerized by some story that Marlin was telling.
My sister, Marty, and two of her brother-in-laws had some sort of joke about what was happening to this last piece of cheesecake.  Yes, we had amazingly, delicious food all weekend long!
Two siblings and or parents prepared a meal with everyone helping to clean up afterward.  Marlin and I assisted my sister, Sarah, and her husband Jim in serving a Mexican breakfast buffet of fried potatoes, sauteed vegetables, scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese sauce, salsa, and this yummy hot mustard sauce which Sarah cans herself.  For those who still had room for more food there was also a fresh fruit platter and coffee cake.  So sorry you missed it! =)
The theme was "Cowboys".
My sister spent a lot of time prepping for this buffet.  She ended up getting most of the supplies since they drove to the cabin and we flew in.
Nice looking cowboys, eh????
The living room had this amazing fireplace, plenty of natural lighting, comfortable couches and chairs, and wooden beams in the ceiling.
My brother, Elam, sent a list of questions to my parents so they could prepare their answers before the reunion and then read their answers at the reunion.  It was like a group story because as they read through their answers, the siblings would jump in with their added comments and memories.  It was a collection of stories dating all the way back to great grand parents-reminding us of God's faithfulness, His protection, and goodness.  Their were some tears of joy and sorrow along the way.
After they shared their stories, each sibling and/or spouse gave an update in their children.  My parents have 9 children, 8 in laws, 50 grandchildren plus 14 grandchildren's spouses, and 17 great grandchildren!! 
I didn't remember to take pictures of every meal, but each one was a culinary delight!
My only regret is that the weekend wasn't longer. It was truly a blessed time of enjoying the very special relationship of family.  These kind of relationships are nurtured and grown in a healthy home of love, godliness, and sacrifice.  Thank-you to my very special family, to my beloved parents, and most of all to God who makes this kind of home possible.

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doeth He meditate day and night.
Psalm 1:1+2

Written/posted by Becky


Family in Iowa || September Recap

September was a good, good month.
Lots of work + company the first half and then lots of traveling the second half. But lots of good family times in there, mixed in with everything!
This post is the HOME segment of September...
Mitch power-washed the inside of the barn. This happens once a year and it is a big project!
As always, the cows get milked twice a day, rain or shine. Here we have a smiling Taylor on the evening crew!

Busy work days with friends!
Graduations + company + big events call for lots and lots of groceries and supplies! And then a good amount of coffee to give necessary energy! =)
There's always something going on and always fires to put out with the Bontragers!  Sometimes literally! So thankful to the Lord for safety and protection the day the back of the car caught on fire. Long story short-no one was hurt, and all the groceries + supplies were saved! =)
Denver giving a broken bike some TLC.
Freezing and canning garden produce with this cheerful team!
Once in a blue moon we actually get bands that come play in Iowa, and and miracle of all miracles we were actually HOME for one such occasion! We had never heard this band live before but had been wanting to for quite some time. I took the five youngest and we made a sibling date out of it. Two hour drive with great conversation + audio material, picnic supper before the concert, and late-night Frosties for the drive home. We loved sitting in the audience for once and getting to listen/observe/cheer from the other end. =)
As promised in this post, we have a few pictures of the tree-house building saga. True to Bontrager form, the actual building portion of the project was left until the ninth hour. As in...literally the last board was put in place half an hour before Denver's graduation party. Denver did a great job planning/designing/organizing the project, and we're very thankful for the brothers + friends who pitched in and worked so hard to help him and get it finished in time.
Here are a few pictures.
Late night crunch time work....
Filling in the sandbox the next morning!
Ham + Cheese sandwich making assembly line for Denver's graduation.
Truffle making with little ladies...
Game time! Settlers continues to be a family favorite!
Getting away from the hustle for a bit and cooking out at our campsite.
Smile for all the good food. (it would appear that most of his had already been consumed at this point..=))
 Liz got her braces removed! Before....
And after!
Sibling date to go see some of our (Josh + Chelsy's) greatest musical inspirations, the Piano Guys. We couldn't believe they actually came to Iowa!
Dad + Liz on a hunting outing! Sadly, it was not successful in that they did not return with a deer. But time outdoors + with dad is always a success so it was a win anyways!
 Making music with friends in the evening after a long full day!


"It's not what we have in life, but who we have in our life, that really matters."


15th Annual Turning Hearts Celebration Recap

The 15th Annual Turning Hearts Celebration was a wonderful day! Our turnout was definitely down from previous years but it was perfect-we loved the "smaller" feel of only about 500 people. =)

I took exactly four pictures the entire day. But thanks to some friends we have some great and very unique shots of the day! Friends of ours from Ontario had flown down for the weekend to visit friends and as they were flying home they took these aerial shots. What fun! You can't really see people from this distance but they were there-trust me-just look at all the vehicles!
Sweet crew of ladies helping wrap silverware for the evening meal. We cannot say a big enough thank you to all of the families who come in early every year and help us prepare. What a blessing!
Signs, signs, and more signs. 
The coloring station that we set up for littles was enjoyed greatly by all ages. =)
A friend took some pictures throughout the day and shared them with us. She captured some great shots of the football game!
Surveying the football action.
I love these impromptu jam times that happen during the afternoon. So great to hear the toe-tapping music drifting all over the farm.
Thankful for Carson's big smiles and capable oversight in coordinating all of the hayrides + drivers!
Meeting friends' new little ones.
Lovely ladies serving ice-cream to the multitudes! We added the ice-cream booth to the days' activities a few years ago, and it has been the best decision ever. Definitely a highlight for all!
Dinner time + food line!
Farm sights and smells abounded as always!
Our dalmation, Ryker, standing by and enjoying the sunshine.
Our family's evening concert! 
(sadly we have no pictures of the Bowers Family, our speakers + singers for the event. Not sure how we managed to completely miss getting them on camera! Their music + sessions were a huge blessing to everyone who attended and a great inspiration to press on + live for the Lord! So thankful for them for coming + blessing us once again.)
Josh sharing the Word.
A little discussion going on here. We cover all manner of topics while we play this song. 
Multi-tasking..oh yes. =)
So good to have Carson join us for a special guest appearance!
We've sure missed him on this song (actually every song!) this summer.

Volleyball into the wee hours to end everything out! Praise the Lord for another amazing day!

"Shew Thy marvelous lovingkindness, O Thou that saves by Thy right hand 
them which put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them."
Psalm 17:7