Rejoice With Us!!

Rejoice with us! We sent our damaged hard drive to "Werecoverdata" and they repaired it! I am posting a few of the pictures from the recovery which tell the story of why we paid dearly to have these pictures recovered. God is good. He was good when we thought all these pictures were lost and He is good today.

A Winter Day

Isn't snow beautiful? Winter is definitely my favorite season but that's because it is December. (I usually say that my favorite season is whatever season we are in!) We have been taking the week off from homeschool studies so we have had more time for playing.
Marlin had the honors of pulling a tobaggon with the tractor over the snowy roads and lanes, up and down road ditches, and wherever else he felt like going. The goal was to see how many riders he could displace! His partner in crime was Hudson. He loved riding on the buddy seat in the tractor when he wasn't on the tobaggon.

Here are the tobaggon riders (except for Rebecca-she only came out for the family picture!!).
Denver's new dalmation dog, Ryker, got his exercise by running behind or beside the tobaggon. Unfortunately, he did not cooperate for the picture!


Happy Belated Birthday, Elizabeth!!

This sweet little lady turned the "long-awaited and much-anticipated" 4 yesturday!! She has been such a blessing to our family in the last four years. Her happy grin and plentiful hugs make her a precious treasure to our family!

Liz loves playing house, tea party, and church with her "family" of dolls, drawing, "composing" original songs,
making cookies, putting on "concerts" with Hudson & Taylor, and going on "dates" with Daddy, and "girl parties" with her older sisters. She is also an "otter" in personality, meaning that she is another one of our social bugs! (yes, we have quite a few of those...) A conversation with a "stranger" typically means that the "stranger" leaves knowing all about Elizabeth's doll family, her daily schedule, her favorite activities, colors, animals, etc, her upcoming birthday (which by the way has been "upcoming" for nearly a year now!) her siblings, her friends, and of course, how old she is! :)
"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." Proverbs 20:11
Happy Birthday, Liz!! We love you!!

(written by Chelsy)


Denver's Belated 8th Birthday post

Due to the busy events of the last several days, it is only now that I am finally sitting down to write a birthday post for this week's birthday boy!!
Denver is a great joy to our whole family. His "smiley" and "bubbly" personality identify him as one of three "otters" in our family, and if you have heard that he has yet to meet a stranger, you heard correctly. :) He learned to read this past year, and one of the first books he wanted to read was the Bible. He has a love for God's Word and is continuously sharing with the family new things that he has learned in his devotions. He is very excited to be eight years old, and can't wait for the upcoming arrival of his birthday present: a dalmatian dog.
Happy happy birthday Denver!!! I am so thankful that God put you in our family!!
We love you!! (And your dimple!! :))

"That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged."
Deut. 6:2
(written by Chelsy)


A Birthday Party

December 5, 2007 was a time of celebration for our family. We were celebrating because for the first time ever, Grandma and Denver were together for their shared birthday. I can still remember how thrilled I was when Denver arrived almost a week before his due date, but exactly on his grandma's birthday. My mother has had this dream of being in IA for this special day and this year her dream came true! We also invited Denver's Grandma Bontrager for the party. The menu (chosen by my mother) was smoked ham, mashed potatoes, sourkraut, tossed salad, oatmeal cake, and homemade ice-cream.
Denver had the honor of blowing out the candles.

After a time of sharing encouraging words with the birthday guests, it was time to open the gifts!
One of Denver's gifts was a 1,000 piece puzzle from his siblings.


It was with great joy that Marlin and I along with 3 of the younger children greeted my parents at the airport this morning. Now we are hoping that their luggage will follow them quickly!

I know that a highlight for my mother has been holding Rebecca, while my father has been playing some challenging checker games with the children.
Grandpa (my father) and Taylor are playing checkers.
Rebecca took a nap in Grandma's arms.

Grandpa's hugs are the best!


Trusting God

This afternoon finds us in the middle of an early winter ice storm. It is the perfect day to bake cookies, play a game, drink hot chocolate, or blog; however, our joy is dampened knowing that my parents are stranded in Chicago. They left the airport in NY this morning, arrived in Chicago around noon, and then were told that their flight to Moline was cancelled because of the ice. They are resting at a motel room while we hope for the ice to melt quickly so they can catch a flight in the morning.
Are you wondering what all this has to do with trusting God? Trusting God in life's daily happenings is a lesson that God has been trying to teach me for years. When I heard the predictions for a storm, my prayer was that I would trust God for my parents arrival. The prayer was so much easier before I heard that their flight was cancelled! I feel like I am blindfolded while God is leading my hand. There are times when I would choose a different path than what I am walking on. Sometimes I stumble, but always I keep following.
"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." Psalm 5:11
"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him." Psalm 18:30



True thanksgiving is being thankful for all the circumstances in life that God brings our way, whether they be good or bad. That doesn't mean that we rejoice in the evil around us, but rather, that we find joy in the lessons that God teaches us from our trials.

This past week our family has had opportunity to find joy when the hard drive on our computer broke. The biggest loss was 2 1/2 months worth of pictures, including all of Rebecca's baby photos and the results from Chelsy's first 4 professional photography ventures.

So with God's grace we are learning that thanksgiving is being thankful for what we have, not for what we have lost.

  1. We are thankful that we have our dear baby Rebecca, even though we lost her baby pictures.

  2. We are so grateful for many wonderful friends although we no longer have your e-mail addresses! (If you would send us an e-mail, that would help us to rebuild our address book.)

  3. We are thankful (most of the time!!) for our computer and its abilities in helping us to organize, communicate with friends, research through the internet, and store photographs.

  4. We rejoice for the opportunity to learn the devasting affects of procrastination and being too busy (we know we should have downloaded the photos a long time ago).

  5. We give thanks for the talents God has given Chelsy in the area of photography although we mourn the loss of over 1,000 photographs.

  6. And most of all, we are thankful for God's faithfulness and for the lessons He is teaching us through this trial. We are learning not to get too attached to the things of this world.

May all of you find joy today in what God has given to you. When you start to count your blessings, you will find that you are indeed blessed.


~Home Alone~

Liz loves putting puzzles together! Here she is with her latest favorite! :)

Yesterday afternoon we older 6 enjoyed a game of hockey in the shop. (while the little ones napped) Teams were Mitchell, Allison, Denver, and Taylor against Carson, Joshua, and myself. Unfortunately, the, ahem, "bad" team (them) won, and the "good" team (us) lost. :)

Lots of action and much concentration!

Here, Carson is diligently working and Mitchell is, well......diligently being funny??!! :)

Liz & Hudson enjoyed stories read by Joshua


Yes, you heard correctly-we are home alone! No need to get worried, its going great and we're having a fabulous time. Some of the highlights were hockey, indoor s'mores, personal mini pizzas, movie night, hide n seek IN THE DARK, many story times, sewing projects (the boys would want me to clarify that sewing was a highlight for the girls!) and a rousing & quite noisy 45 minutes of Dutch Blitz (we didn't get any pics. of that because it is my ultimate favorite game and there was no way I was going to skip a round to get my camera!) All in all we had a simply wonderful time......but we are now on the countdown for the scheduled 6:30pm arrival of our favorite people.........Dad, Mom, & Rebecca!! :)
(~Chelsy reporting for the "Nine Alone"~)


Happy 12th Birthday, Carson!!!

Wow, my little brother is already 12!!! How in the world did he grow up so fast? It seems like just yesterday that he spent his days playing with duplos, looking at books, and being goofy. :) Now, he is Dad's right hand man (along with Mitchell), deer hunter, one of our best eaters (we currently have several vying for first place :)), and as you can tell by the photo, he still enjoys making us laugh. Actually, I believe it was one of his sisters that put that hat on backwards....:) but he just laughed and was a good sport! His curiosity and interest in everything and anything gets him into some unusual scrapes, and we siblings have had many a chuckle over some of his escapades!

His love for God and for his family have made him a delight and a joy to our family. We are so thankful for this "beaver brother" (ask him about that sometime!) that God has given to us and for all he does to add fun and laughter to our days!!

May God continue to raise you up to be a man of His Word who is willing to go wherever He calls!!


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.....My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." Proverbs 1:7a;8;9

(written by Chelsy)

"Praise ye the Lord, O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can show forth all His praise?"
Psalms 106:1-2
After the corn is harvested, we roll up the remaining corn stalks into bales to use for bedding for the cattle in the winter. Carson spent a good part of his 12th birthday taking these bales off the field with the skid loader. (Watch for a birthday post later on this evening or tomorrow.)
Bobcat and Wersley (the name was taken from the book "Endurance" a great read aloud book which we enjoyed very much) are the family pets...........especially loved and mothered by Joshua and Denver!!

Joshua has a special touch with Rebecca. Today she fell asleep within minutes of being in his arms.

Our little lady is growing up!

Allison, along with her assistants, Hudson and Elizabeth, baked some delicious cookies as a special treat to take to the field for the harvest crew.

Hudson thought that turning the mixer on and off was such fun!!

" M-m-m-m-m, do you think we should try some dough?"


A Merry Heart

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance..."
Proverbs 15:13
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..."
Proverbs 17:22
Marlin, Denver, and Taylor share a happy moment at the park.

Anybody want to "share" a doughnut?

This is REALLY funny!

Playing outdoors is so fun!

M-m-m-m, I love potato chips!

Aren't we having a good time??

Elizabeth is loving life!


Weekend in Illinois

This past weekend we headed to Lake Fork, IL to spend time with our friends, the Vincents, and to sing at an event on their farm.
Just before lunch we stopped to stretch our legs at a park. Hudson thoroughly enjoyed the pushes from Elizabeth on the swing.

Our friend, Nicole Chmelar, went along to take care of Rebecca while we sang. She was also a help in so many other ways and in addition gave us the gift of laughter!

Does this look like a hardworking young man?

The Vincent's planned an event for families in their front yard. There were hayrides, a potluck, a word from both Chris Hogan and Marlin, and a time of singing by our family. Our stage was their front porch. It was a blessed sight to see so many families with their babies and little children enjoying the outdoors and Christian fellowship together.

After attending Noble Family Fellowship with the Vincent family on Sunday morning, we drove on the Arthur, IL to share in the evening service at North Vine Mennonite Church.
Denver listened attentively as Marlin told him about Christians being persecuted all over the world. This conversation takes place in the song, "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb".
"We are God's little people, we got a light and we're gonna let it shine."


Happy 2nd Birthday, Hudson!!

We joked about all the "girls" that loved to kiss Hudson this summer. :) Other than his adoring sisters, we are referring to the many mosquitos that, ahem, loved him.:) He didn't appreciate that attention very much. Poor little guy!! In August his face was literally peppered with "kiss marks".
This little guy is 2 today!!! I wonder how we ever did without him. What in the world did we have to laugh at??:) Just before I came to post this, Mom was putting him to bed & I jokingly said to him "Goodnight, Plumpy." He grinned as I gave him a kiss and replied "I not pumpy!!! I a feetie pie!!!" (sweetie pie, for those of you who need interpretation:)) That is his newest comeback to all the nicknames we have for him. His chosen and favorite one is "Feetie Pie!" :) His smile and enthusiasm are very contagious and his giggle is one of a kind! He is a great helper and loves to wash "egglins" (eggs) with Allison "feed titties" (kitties) with Denver, "pay pano" (piano), "pet it" (touch Rebecca), and his latest hobby is listening to lots of "mooskic" (music) :)
His vocabulary grows every day as he is with older siblings who like to try out their new spelling words on everyone. As he is an extreme copycat, all those big words the "big kids" say are often heard not long after by the little repeater. Hudson's favorite activity is anything farm-related. He loves playing farm and riding with Daddy in the combine, tractor, and skid loader. His brothers are always willing and eager to take him along with them while they chore and he really loves when he can do that!
Truly God has blessed us with this loving and dear little man who is so full of life and love!
Happy Birthday, Hudson!! We love you!

(written by Chelsy)