7.27.2016

East Coast Tour Summer 2016 || June Recap

Our first concerts of our summer tour were the first Friday and Saturday nights of June, in western Iowa. Saturday night we sang at a convention center with two other bands, which was such a treat. Usually we do solo concerts, but its always fun to change it up a little and be able to listen to other bands as well! 
Before the concert, enjoying lunch with one of the other bands. We always love these times with singing friends-it's so fun to exchange notes (no pun intended) and compare ideas for everything from arranging music to booking venues to coordinating outfits. =)

After those two concerts, we returned home for a few days before heading east for our eight week summer concert tour.

Other than our first two concerts in Iowa + Minnesota, (mentioned above) June found us giving eighteen concerts in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, + New York. During the afternoons and evenings we set up, practiced, gave concerts, talked to people, and tore down/packed up again. Mornings were often spent either doing school, music practice, and office work, or spending time with friends/family.
We came out from our evening concert one night in Pennsylvania to this beautiful sunset.
Taylor and Liz practicing a new piano/violin duet.
Being in PA means cousin time for us!! Mom has two sisters and their families that live there and it is always such fun to be with them! Even work is so much more fun when done with cousins. It is also a way to say thanks for their hospitality! =)
Besties!
Cousin work parties are the best!
Josh and Denver getting rid of some pent-up energy by chopping wood!
A beautiful dinner outdoors with the family...
Mom with two of her six sisters. 
The game of choice among the cousins is DUTCH BLITZ. Should've counted how many rounds were played...probably hundreds?!
Another tradition: a highly entertaining, theatrical, and original story dramatized by all the younger ones. Tickets were sold for a low "donation" of $.25 and they even had popcorn for all attendees. Quite impressive. =)
The guys trying out a super cool invention. (made by our cousin's friends) It's kind of hard to describe but basically its a cross between a ferris wheel and a workout machine? 
Allison scripting quotes and verses on my aunt's cupboards.
Brother/sister date at Chipotle!
We met Zach while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. My parents witnessed to him and gave him a Bible to read. He said he wasn't saved and he had never heard the Gospel but after my mom shared salvation with him he said, "That is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever heard." It is so true-and made me think about how often I take the story of salvation, and what Christ has done for us, for granted, and I forget to see the beauty in it! He didn't get saved that day but a seed was planted and we have been praying that God would send the rain (spiritually speaking) to water that seed! 
Another huge treat during the month of June was all the Bible Bee friends that came out to our concerts! In almost every state there were Bible Bee friends in the audience, which meant great conversation and stories and tips followed afterwards. We older ones knew some of them, but it was also fun to meet more of our younger siblings friends that we had only heard about, and never met.
Reason #1001 to do Bible Bee: our younger five have literally dozens upon dozens of godly friends all over the USA that they have met through Bible Bee!
We love having company so much that sometimes we even host parties in the bus! It's a little tight, true...but with close friends the close quarters don't seem to matter! 
These people...we've been friends for almost as long as we can remember and we just love them to death. Always so special to get to hang out and catch up with them!
This cousin traveled with us a few years ago on a tour and made many memories with the littles by telling them her famous bedtime stories. 
When she came to one of our concerts, the younger ones begged her afterwards for one of her grand stories in the bunk room! She so sweetly obliged.
Mom and her oldest sister, enjoying a morning chat!
We love this family! What a treat to spend a morning in their home while we were in PA.
All set up and ready to go!
Um...what happens in the green room, stays in the green room.
Selfie shenanigans, inside jokes, and much more. We love these backstage memories. =)
Mom with her newest great-nephew-one week old!
So precious!
Hudson studying!
We love these ladies!! Whenever they show up at our concerts we just have a blast with them! They were in VS with mom "back in the day", but now we say that we've stolen them from mom and they are Allison's and my best friends too! =)
Cousins who drive from the next state over to SURPRISE us. Love love LOVE these people.
Denver's first asked question when we pull into a church, "Do they have a gym?!?!" =)

I'm going to let mom tell about this picture in her words:
"This precious story is all about God, His plans, and His amazing ability to use ordinary people in ordinary circumstances to do extra-ordinary work.  It all began with with just another trip to our favorite place, Costco, to buy huge amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, peanut butter, and toilet paper. (yes, we ARE ordinary!!) As Hudson and I entered the store, the sign announcing a deep discount on a package of 2 pillows nearly jumped out and grabbed me.  Another ordinary fact is that I am, at times, prone to jump for an extra-ordinararily priced item that I know we will need sometime in the near future.  For those of you who don't have the privilege of shopping at Costco, as you exit the store there is an employee who matches your cart of purchases with your receipt.  At this store, Mr. Mike, (see photo above) was providentially provided to check my receipt. Mr. Mike, being a friendly man, drew a caricature on the back of my receipt for Hudson and then asked him if he was going to have a pillow fight with the pillows.  I told him that in our family the children have rubber band fights instead of pillow fights which led me to a conversation in which I described our music, family, and ministry.  When I invited him to the concert he said he would come because his girlfriend loves gospel bluegrass music.  I smiled politely, remembering the many other times that had people told me something similar without ever showing up to the concert. But something about him seemed to be serious so when I got to the bus I asked Marlin if he would tell him how to get to the church. Sure enough, Mike and his sweet girlfriend showed up at the concert that evening. As I watched the couple during the concert I thought "I'm not sure if Mike is saved but his girlfriend's face certainly indicates joy in her heart".  Sure enough, after the concert she told me that she was saved, how her husband had died about 17 years ago, and how God had showed her that she should date Mr. Mike even though she didn't think he was saved.  Turns out, God was using her to bring Mr. Mike to the Kingdom of God!! Mr. Mike shared with Marlin and I how he had been rejected by his mother as a newborn, his recent "battle" with Satan, and when we asked, that he was not saved.  We had the immense privilege to share the Gospel message more completely with him, and when Marlin asked him if he would like to be born again he said "YES"!! And that is the story of an ordinary story with an extra-ordinary ending!!!  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!  Without Him, we can do nothing!  Our songs, our testimony, our ministry are NOTHING without the power of the Holy Spirit!! (note: Marlin talked with "Costco Mike" again the other day. Mike was fired up and excited about his new Christian journey and told Marlin that he is getting baptized this Sunday!)
The pastor of one of the churches we sang at in Ohio treated us to breakfast.
Loved catching up with my mother's niece and her little girl in Ohio!
Seriously, is she not the most charming child ever?!
Here is mom with one of the ladies who was a bridesmaid in her and dad's wedding twenty-seven years ago! We don't get to see their family very often but whenever we do we have such a great time together.
We see fun signs like this at churches sometimes. =)

Bus chores continue, day after day. It's just like keeping up with a house, only on a smaller scale!

The outside of the bus is no exception-you wouldn't believe the grime and filth we pick up as we drive all over! 
This dear friend is a trucker and always so kind to give our bus a wash whenever we are in the area!
As you may have noticed by now, we are missing a family member this concert tour.
Carson quit traveling with the family band this spring. We miss him a lot but are excited for the new opportunities God has opened up for him! (stay tuned for a post on that coming soon!)
I will be honest and tell you that our first couple concerts without him were beyond rough. We were nearly in despair. Some of us considered mutiny some nights; we were that embarrassed about how badly we sounded. =) Carson had been our bass player, sound guy, and bus mechanic. So he definitely left some pretty big shoes to fill! Thankfully everyone has pitched in-Mitch and Dad and other people along the way with bus repair issues and troubleshooting, Denver + Josh with running sound, and Taylor with the bass guitar (with a little help from Mitchell and I).
Eventually, after about a week, we got into a routine and now I am happy to report that we have adjusted and things are going much better!
Still working on getting Taylor incorporated with Carson's spot on siblings cooperation and mom talking over Taylor's bass on this song. For now, we've just cut the second set, and do the song with the older set and the youngest ones.
Liz catching up with friends after a concert!
We enjoyed some "time on the farm" and a country breakfast with this dear lady and her family one morning after our concert in the hills of Pennsylvania.
With Carson's departure from the band, Hudson stepped up to take over all battery charging and mic checking. He does a great job keeping our vocal amplification
 Liz before a concert, with her great-aunt Liz, whom she was named after!
Dad, Mitch, and Hudson with this gentleman, who was one of Dad's teachers at Bible School thirty years ago. It is such a great testimony to us children to be able to meet the people who had an impact on our parents' lives. What a heritage.
While in Delaware, we got to help with and then enjoy a full-out Alaskan fish meal! For those of you who have been reading our blog for years, you may remember this post in which we talked about our friend from Delaware who came to Alaska to be our "fishing guide". Well, he, along with his wife and some other friends of ours, made the most amazing meal complete with multiple kinds of salmon and halibut. It was amazing and took us right back to memories in Alaska! We are super excited to be returning there in 2017.
Concert set-up routine...
After our concert at a church in Ohio one night, one of the men there came to my dad and said, "Here is a video from when y'all were here six years ago."
We watched it the next day while we were eating lunch. I must confess, it was difficult to eat because we were all in STICHES laughing SO HARD. Those were the days when Liz, Hudson, and Rebecca were all babies, and we were constantly taking turns running off stage to tend to them or something similar. It was to DIE FOR funny.
It was also encouraging to see that by God's grace we have improved a bit! And humbled to know that God is willing to use whatever we are willing to do for Him.
Practice, practice, practice...Hudson + Allison during a violin lesson in a church nursery in Maryland.
And again...this time, Taylor practicing banjo in the trailer at a Walmart parking lot.
Such fun to see one of our "fellow Cruz campaigners" again and to meet part of his family in Virginia! He was in Iowa as Cruz staff for the winter leading up to our caucus, and he attended church with us and lived at our hotel. 


Classy looking brothers. =)
The little tribe sibling cooperation!
 One of the biggest perks of tour life remains that we get to stay in touch with our hundreds of cousins, uncles, aunts, and even more distantly related family. Here, mom poses before on of our concerts with her uncle + aunt, and her cousin + cousin's husband.

 Fog over the mountains in Virginia. What a beautiful view from the church we sang at!
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"But the Lord is faithful, Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."
2 Thessalonians 3:3

10 comments:

  1. oh, my! how do ya'll do that-the pic's with the three of ya'll in a circle each playing something on the other person's instrument?? such talent!
    Clo,Is.53:5,#UNASHAMED, heresclo.blogspot.com, YouTube channel-Clo Hale

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  2. Elizabeth MittonJuly 28, 2016 at 8:38 PM

    Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within, me bless his holy name. It is so refreshing to read and see a family in love with Jesus and wanting to go all out in serving him!!

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  3. So very excited to hear you are planning on coming back to Alaska! We were so blessed by your concert here a couple years ago!! ~Amelia

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  4. Where did your little girls get their adorable dresses?

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  5. What a fun post! I love your new outfits--those colors are sharp! Blessings to you all! Much love,
    Jon, Marissa, & Caden

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  6. Anonymous-
    We bought the fabric in Mexico and then a sweet lady that we met there, sewed them for us!

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  7. Love the story about the guy at Costco!! Among the not-so-great stories in the news right now, I'm glad there plenty of God-stories out there as well!

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  8. That new singing outfit color combo though! You & Liz knocked it out of the park. Fun to recognize some familiar faces from BB like Zach & Thomas! And trying not to be jealous that you got to hike on the AT. :) PTL for all of the Gospel conversations you've been able to have, too! He is so faithful!

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  9. Great update, y'all!!! I agree with EB. THE OUTFITS!!! They're amazing=) And we loved seeing y'all sing, regardless of the slight mishaps and getting into a new routine=) Y'all are a true blessing!

    p.s we got our promotional package today...excited for SEPTEMBER!!! =)

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  10. Love your posts! You all are such a blessing and inspiation!!loved having and seeing you inPA!!

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