3.21.2016

A Glimpse of a Bontrager Family Singers' Concert

"Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; 
for it is pleasant; and praise is comely."
-Psalm 147:1
"Almighty, most holy God, faithful through the ages,
Almighty, most Holy Lord, glorious, almighty God."
"All I need is You, Lord, please fill me with Your power today,
All I ask, is use me, Lord, 
It doesn't matter how, just in any way."
"As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. 
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
-Psalm 127:4+5
"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her..."
-Proverbs 31:11a
"Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun, at the trumpet call, 
So lift your voice, its the year of jubilee, and out of Zion's hill salvation comes."
"Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs."
-Psalm 150:4
"Hallelujah, salvation and glory and power belong to our God...the Lord God Almighty reigns!"
"There is a song in my heart today, something I never had,
Jesus has taken my sins away, oh say but I'm glad."
"Cherish the moment, soon you'll be apart,
Cling to the memories, clasp them to your heart,
Soon comes a day when you'll have no child to hold, 
So cherish, cherish the moment."
"Here I am before You, Lord, falling at your feet.
My longing is to know You more, Your purpose to completely,
When I look around me, its so hard to understand,
I want to see You move, Lord, I want to see your hand."
"My faith rests not on what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know,
but in Who Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me."
-Charles Spurgeon
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God and the Father by Him."
Colossians 3:17
"Music is a piece of art that goes in the ears, straight to the heart." 
"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth..."
Psalm 144:12a
"They are covered by the blood, they are covered by the blood,
My sins are all covered by the blood!
Mine iniquities so vast have been blotted out at last,
My sins are all covered by the blood!"
"Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, for havin' faith in the way it was, 
when a golden band on someone's hand, meant love was everlastin',
Call me out of style, that's who I am, I believe kids need a mom and a dad,
They're worth working out any problems that your havin',
Call me old fashioned."
"Our father's God to Thee, author of liberty, to Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright, with freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might, great God our King."
"If my people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, 
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
-2 Chronicles 7:14
"Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long,
This day the noise of battle, the next the victors song.
To him that overcometh, a crown of life shall be,
He with the King of glory shall reign eternally."
"There's someone you can reach, someone's life that you can touch,
How could you give so little, when you've been given so much,
Someone's future is depending, on what you will do,
And to someone in the world today, their only hope is YOU."
"What a shame to live our whole life long and stand before the throne,
What a pity it would be to hear Him say these words, 'These are ones you should have reached'."
"Walking in sunlight, all of my journey,
Over the mountains, through the deep vale,
Jesus has said 'I''ll never forsake thee'
Promise divine that never can fail."
"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below!
 Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen."
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{special thanks to Joe Xiques for photographing this concert for us!}

3.17.2016

Winter Tour 2015//February in Review

As you may be gathering from the title of this post, we are going to be switching things up a little with our post schedule while on tour!

Normally, we try to do a post for each week of our tour. However, due to this tour being a little different from normal (what is normal, anyway? Is there even normal?) with several new projects and experiences that we have been involved in, we have been posting updates a little less than usual.

For now, here is a glimpse of the month of February, out on tour, in random order.

We had concerts almost every evening, and two on Sundays, all throughout February. We met thousands of people and saw God working in mighty ways. So many stories of His goodness! Seeing the lost saved and the saved revived never grows old!
Throughout our travels over the years, we have had the privilege to become close friends with some of the most precious people you could imagine.
Above, we got to meet up with dear friends one day as we were driving through Tennessee. We are always inspired and rejuvenated when we are with this sweet family!
Josh making lunch on the bus!

During the prison crusade we were parked at a local church for several days, and took advantage of the church's large and beautiful kitchen to do many cooking and baking projects.

Hard at work!
Prisons still are, and probably will always be, our very favorite place to sing. I think it really is true that prison ministry gets in your blood; at least it has for us! We were so thankful for the opportunity to minister in three prisons in South Carolina. It was the highlight of our month to be able to go in and share Jesus with those behind bars. 
The brotherhood never ceases to inspire and amaze me with their diligence in physical fitness and personal training. They work out everywhere. (literally. we have stories. =))
This weight bench has been all over the USA, Canada, and Mexico, and it makes its appearance in some parking lot or another, almost daily. =)
Josh has been extremely diligent with his studies. He is the first one of us Bontragers to pursue a college degree, and doing this while on tour, in addition to campaigning and concerts, is not for the faint of heart! He studies everywhere and has been taking CLEP tests at several colleges along the way.
Getting a little Florida sun while eating lunch on the curb one day.
Banjo practice for Taylor.
And dobro practice for Josh in a church library.
We've added a new instrument to the band! (just kidding!) 
Quite honestly though, Denver has pretty decent rhythm. But he's not for hire. 
He and Taylor attempted a few duets. It was great for about two minutes...at which point we BEGGED them to stop. Denver needs to learn a bit more, ahem, technique, before he goes full-time with this new gig. =)
The littles have discovered a new game called "Jungle Speed". They attempted to teach a few of us older ones and things got quite violent. =) This game can really drive you crazy! Kids seem to be best at it for some reason.
Before a concert one night...
Debate watching in a church, after a concert one night.
Florida sunset one night before a concert.
The church we sang at on Valentines Day evening made a delicious meal for our family and decorated the tables so beautifully.
We got to spend a morning with one of our favorite missionary couples, while we were in Florida. We met these friends at our church's annual missions conference last year, and we have been so inspired by their incredible work for the Lord all over the world. They have been a strong example and encouragement to our family to continue in spreading the light of Jesus wherever we go!
We hardly ever go out to eat, but a sweet lady at one of our concerts gave us some money to do something special, and one of the first places that came to our minds was this favorite southern restaurant of ours, The Sweet Tomato + Soup Plantation. We highly recommend it for large families and really anyone, actually!

The instruction board at the beginning of the salad bar (see above) seemed to have been written specifically for our family, I believe. (hehe!) Some of us have a rather bad habit of tasting nearly everything as we go.

Sure enough, look what little rabbit I found right in front of me, making her salad whilst nibbling on cucumbers!
Lunch + fellowship with friends.
Post-concert jam time!
More practice. 
As you can maybe tell, we practice everywhere and anywhere. 
The motto is "find a quiet place, will take it." Sometimes the trailer is what is available! 
We love Sarasota and how we always get to meet up with friends and relatives from all over there! A highlight was an amazing brunch and morning spent at these dear friends' home.
Another blessing of traveling so much is that us children have had the opportunity to get to know our great aunts and uncles and see some of them on a regular (yearly) basis. Above, we enjoyed some time with mom's uncle and aunt.
Enjoying Great Aunt Hannah's delicious warm chocolate chip cookies in Sarasota! They were SO good!
The little girls, practicing a new violin duet that they are preparing for a new set.
Family meeting! We fondly call these our "vision casting sessions" because they are, well, just that. =)  We have these from time to time in our family, and they are always quite memorable! Whether it is planning ahead for new ventures, or "dividing + conquering" on certain projects, we have found that when we all take and do our part in whatever we are pursuing, the results add up very quickly!
Costco is our best friend. We really should buy stock there. =) Here mom and the girls are pictured after a stock-up trip one morning!
A late-night basketball game with all the guys, after our concert and after everyone else had gone home.
Thanks to the initiative and prompting of Elizabeth, we once again had our own little family Valentines celebration, where two weeks before Valentines Day everyone drew names and then did special things for their person leading up to Valentines. For our celebration, we had a special meal and then everyone "revealed" their person and gave that person a gift!
Allison + I with these sweet friends of ours after a barn concert/party one night.
Shoutout to our "maple friends" in Michigan for their incredible maple products!
Above is my cup of tea with just a touch of Maple Sugar-SO good!
Spending time with some of our favorite people, in one of our favorite states...Georgia!
We always have such encouraging + uplifting times with them, and several of my brothers are a part of the discipleship group that the father started.
Liz, lovin' on baby Lucy! =)
When one has so many instruments on board, that means there is a lot of instrument maintenance involved! The brotherhood do a great job keeping strings changed and in good order.
Some brilliant sibling had the idea to start a pushup contest amongst the siblings. Everyone participating signed up for a certain amount of pushups per day, and then if they miss their amount, they have to pay a "fine" towards "the pile", which will go to purchase some new workout equipment!
The main challenge seems to be finding a good spot to get one's pushups in. The bus is really quite small when it's time for something like this!
Above, Josh and Rebecca double up in the bunk room to get their pushups done. Rebs also loves to jump on the older boys' backs while they do theirs. She gets a free ride, and they get an extra challenge. =)
Taylor always seems to end up with a crowd around him after our concerts! He loves to connect with people and take interest in their lives.

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"....and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, 
wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee."
-Deuteronomy 12:7b